Chipotle first introduced its alternative to vegan protein, Sofritas, in 2014. The demand for Sofritas has continued to grow, the company said. Last year it boasted 7.5 million pounds of Sofritas. Vegetarian and vegan food accounted for about 1[ads1]2% of all meals Chipotle sold in 2018.
"We have found that many people are increasingly seeking plant-based protein alternatives," says Chris Brandt, Chipotle's chief marketing officer. The dishes do not include new vegan or vegetarian ingredients. They are only available as predefined options on Chipotle's website or mobile app.
Taco Bell recently tried a similar tactic.
For Chipotle, the lifestyle dishes are a way not only to entice vegetarians, but to create a positive hype for the brand.
During a earnings figure in February, CEO Brian Niccol said the lifestyle bowls "are reasonably reasoned with consumers." CFO John Hartung said the beans "created a terrible lot of buzz and interest."
"The whole idea here is to really emphasize that Chipotle can be a alternative for almost any diet, says Sharon Zackfia, an analyst covering real estate management research group William Blair, raising awareness of the many different Chipotle-compatible diets, "eliminating the veto factor," she said.
Chipotle has come a long way since it suffered an E. coli outbreak that 60 Chipotle customers in 14 say sick late in 2015 and early 2016.
Customers are now coming back. In 2018, the company reported a turnover increase of 8.7% compared to the year before. Sales at restaurants open at least a year jumped 4% in that time frame, and digital sales increased 42.4%.
To help increase the decline, Chipotle was dropped for "real" markets Leadership campaign, highlighting ingredients and providing openness in operations, streamlining its pickup options, expanded delivery service and improved its production lines.