The Coronavirus pandemic has left many farmers with food surpluses and nowhere to sell them. Through a new program that mutually benefits suppliers and consumers, Chipotle has created a virtual market to assist farmers in the company’s supply chain.
The Chipotle Virtual Farmers Market powered by Shopify allows farmers to create their own online marketplaces to sell fresh items to consumers. The program is launching at a time when digital commerce continues to grow in sales according to a Gartner report, and could create an additional revenue stream for farmers weathering economic loss during the Coronavirus pandemic. Through the program, farmers can sell meat, dairy, and grain products on their own, custom-built websites. Chipotle will help each supplier set up their site and will also cover each Shopify hosting fee for two years. Chipotle also created its own microsite to teach consumers about the program and provide additional links to the farmer’s sites.
Chipotle’s virtual farmers market follows a newer trend of restaurants pivoting into the grocery business during the Coronavirus pandemic. For example, both Moe’s and Subway took a grocery store approach during the pandemic by letting customers order fresh ingredients to pick up in-store. Chipotle’s farmer’s market stands out, however, because all of the sales will stay with the farmers—boosting loyalty with its suppliers, but no additional revenue stream. Chipotle is further promoting the virtual farmer’s markets on TikTok, where it has a history of successful campaigns. On the video-sharing platform, Chipotle’s Director of Culinary and Menu Development will share recipes inspired by each farmer’s products and encourage viewers to check out their websites.
Chipotle’s new program could also help it deepen its roots in sustainability. By digitally selling excess food, it could help decrease food waste. Additionally, Chipotle created the Chipotle Seed Grants Program, which supports young farmers across the country looking to farm sustainably. The program kicked off by partnering with the National Young Farmers Coalition to offer $5,000 grants to 50 farmers under 40 years old. Chipotle’s sustainable initiatives could assist the brand in financially protecting its suppliers at a time when many farmers face an uphill, post-pandemic battle.
Chipotle is giving farmers and suppliers a digital push to continue selling their fresh food during the pandemic. By assisting farmers in selling excess products, Chipotle could deepen its dependability with suppliers and stabilize its supply chain until business returns to normal.