Chipotle Mexican Grill: Getting Started with Traceability

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Looking for insights on establishing or enhancing your traceability program? Need help decoding the “alphabet soup” of GS1 acronyms, including GLNGTIN and GS1-128? Traceability leader Chipotle Mexican Grill makes recommendations on how to build your program, manage implementation, and how tech-enabled traceability can enhance your operations.

Chipotle Mexican Grill was born of the “radical belief that there is a connection between how food is raised and prepared, and how it tastes.” With over 2,800 locations, the beloved brand delivers high-quality fast-casual experiences at an incredible scale, backed by fresh, traceable ingredients. In 2020 alone, Chipotle purchased over 31 million pounds of local produce as part of their effort to build a sustainable business. Learn about How Chipotle has built a tech-enabled traceability program using Trustwell’s FoodLogiQ Traceability to enhance safety and visibility within their supply chain.

The Traceability Journey

Engebretson describes traceability as a journey, not a destination, that has four phases leading towards a robust traceability program:

  1. Vision: The most important time investment is made at the beginning of the journey. This phase includes stakeholder engagement that creates a shared commitment to supply chain visibility.
  2. Planning: This phase is for mapping the journey—a well-developed traceability project plan is the key to success. Put together comprehensive product management, education, and partnership plans.
  3. Execution: This is where the rubber hits the road. This phase includes the implementation of standards and technology, coupled with comprehensive change management.
  4. Maintenance & Enhancement: This is the final phase of the traceability journey. Teams in this phase are doing daily work to stay current with standards and merge with emerging technologies. Chipotle is in this phase today.

Tech-Enabled Traceability and Enhanced Visibility

Chipotle’s traceability system allows the team to identify the menu items from supplier to distribution center to restaurant down to the lot code level. They do this by giving each case a unique Global Trade Item Number, (GTIN). Each case is labeled with a barcode containing the GTIN, the lot number, and the pack date or use-by date. A key part of bringing this level of visibility to their program? Leveraging GS1 standards and partnering with solution providers.

“Select a technology partner, such as FoodLogiQ like we did,” said Engebretson. “They have the capability and more importantly, the expertise. So while we use the FoodLogiQ Traceability platform to stitch together the product and ingredient events at lot level across a supply chain, the real value is that they will teach you the basics of traceability data exchange and what your options are. For example, generating GS1-128 compliant case labels and creating Critical Tracking Events.”

Accelerated Response and Action

In the world of food safety, Engebretson notes, there is no competition. It is important to share knowledge, lean on more experienced peers for guidance and partner with experts who can enhance food transparency efforts. Building a stronger traceability program is part and parcel with building a smarter food safety and quality program.

“Our ability to track ingredients from supplier to restaurant, at the lot code level, is a powerful tool supplementing our already amazing food safety program. It helps ensure that we are able to research and act on food safety and quality concerns quickly, thoroughly, and know where particular ingredients are at a given time, as well as where they have been,” said Engebretson.

Interested in getting started on your traceability journey? Trustwell is here to help! Reach out to our team to learn more about the traceability technology powering Chipotle’s program.

Chipotle Mexican Grill: Getting Started with Traceability

Chipotle Senior Manager of Supply Chain Amber Engebretson joined FoodLogiQ for our annual user group conference, reCONNECT 2021. View her session Getting Started with Traceability.

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