Chipotle’s Marriage of Tofu and Tacos Goes National

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rrrrred/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rrrrred/

Earlier this summer when Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) rolled out its latest menu item, “Sofritas,” in a select number of markets, the popular fast-food chain had some jealous customers on its hands. Sofritas, made up of “shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices,” was only introduced to the menu in restaurants stationed throughout the West Coast, and all other consumers, particularly of the vegetarian and vegan variety, felt short-changed. Was Chipotle playing favorites?

Maybe so, but the Denver, Colorado-based company is now officially leveling the playing field. According to Fox News, Chipotle says it is ready to roll out the Sofritas nationally, starting as soon as next week. Though the spicy shredded tofu has been available in cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia for a while now, customers in New York City and Boston will see it on the menu starting March 3, and all other consumers will see it soon thereafter.

In order to come out with its organic, GMO-free, soy-based protein that now serves as the filling for many tacos and burritos, Fox News reports that Chipotle teamed up with soy producer Hodo Soy to perfect the recipe. The fast-food company has enjoyed significant success as of late, partly due to its commitment to more healthful options and non-GMO ingredients, and its success with Sofritas in Northwest markets only represents yet another victory Chipotle has secured thanks to health-conscious consumers. While restaurants like McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) and Burger King (NYSE:BKW) have suffered slowing sales thanks to customers’ flattening demand for calorie-packed foods, Chipotle has only benefited from the new trend, thanks to customers driving away from the McDonald’s Drive-Thru and into the Chipotle one.

Chipotle has not only recognized that consumers prefer fresh and healthy ingredients — the chain has also noted that many of its customers have taken a likening to going meat-free, regardless of whether they label themselves vegetarians or not. Thanks to the chain’s customizable menu, this hasn’t kept mat-free consumers away from Chipotle stores; however, the trend has revealed an opportunity for the company: introduce a meatless protein option — because no one wants an empty taco.

That’s why Chipotle has been working so hard to perfect and market its chili-based recipe that mimics chorizo. Customers have shown an enthusiasm for adding Sofritas to their burritos or tacos, instead of just chicken or beef, and Chipotle has also enjoyed even more media attention for setting itself apart from the fast-food crowd and succeeding as a healthy one.

Now, consumers all over the U.S. will soon get their chance to try the famed Sofritas. Fox News reports that Sofritas will be available in tacos, burritos, bowls, and salads, and they will be sold at the same price as Chipotle’s chicken option, around $6.30.

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