March 5, 2014 -- Chipotle's recent acknowledgement that climate change may affect the availability of the restaurant chain's guacamole and salsa has caused concern across the Internet over the beloved ingredients, but a spokesman calls it "routine risk factor disclosure."
"The sky is not falling," Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, told ABCNews.com.
Public companies must periodically disclose their "risk factors" about everything from labor and management issues to regulations and competition. Much of this stuff is unlikely to come to pass, but just in case it does, companies want to warn investors and head off lawsuits.
It was the weather-related portion of Chipotle's most recent 10-K quarterly filing last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission that caught the attention of Think Progress:
"Increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change, could have a significant impact on the price or availability of some of our ingredients. Any increase in the prices of the ingredients most critical to our menu, such as chicken, beef, cheese, avocados, beans, rice, tomatoes and pork, would adversely affect our operating results. Alternatively, in the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients, we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients."
Back in January, the media jumped on the possibility of an avocado shortage because of colder than average temperatures, causing mild hysteria over Super Bowl guacamole. But Arnold said Chipotle experienced a similar issue in 2011 with higher avocado prices, but the company never stopped serving guacamole.
Weather or climate can impact the supply of Chipotle's fresh ingredients, and like other companies, the quick service restaurant is required to disclose those issues that could present risk, Arnold said.
That includes supply constraints or higher food costs, such as two years of drought conditions in parts of the U.S. that led to increases in beef prices during late 2013 and early 2014, the company said in its filing.