Wells Fargo analysts ‘weigh in’ on Chipotle portion sizing after restaurant chain faces backlash online

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Chipotle Mexican Grill has been facing criticism online after social media users accused the restaurant of using fewer ingredients in its popular burrito bowls — and therefore, serving decreased portion sizes of the menu item.

The phrase “Chipotle small portion size” has at least 58 million videos on TikTok centered on the restaurant’s burrito bowl sizes.

In an effort to try to combat the decrease in portion sizes, social media users have been recording to show that the workers would scoop an extra amount of rice, beans and chicken at no extra cost.

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“Similar to others in the fast casual industry, our completely customizable meals may have variability in their size or weight depending upon the number of ingredients a guest selects or if they choose to make an ingredient extra or light when ordering from our list of real ingredients in-person or digitally,” Laurie Schalow, chief corporate affairs officer with Chipotle, shared in a statement via email with FOX Business.

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“There have been no changes in our portion sizes, and we aim to provide a great guest experience every time,” she also said. 

In a video posted to TikTok by Fortune, with over 15.3 million views, the CEO of Chipotle, Brian Niccol, denied any sort of stingy sizing and said that the portion sizes of the company’s burritos and bowls have not gotten any smaller.

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He went on to say that if customers want a little extra of something in their order, they just need to give the employee a little nod — and the server will add a bit more.

This response overwhelmingly received a negative response from viewers, with many finding the video to be tone-deaf.

“I don’t think he has been to a Chipotle as a regular customer,” one user commented on the TikTok video.

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“I can tell he’s the CEO, no one else would approve of this statement,” another TikTok user wrote. 

Many former employees also commented on the video, saying that over the years they have witnessed a lessening of portion sizes.

The notion of decreased portion sizes was put to the test by Zachary Fedam, a Wells Fargo analyst, who started recording data from different Chipotle orders.

Finance professionals, led by Fedam, ordered and then weighed “75 like-for-like burrito bowls across 8 NYC locations,” the data report said.

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They also tested the difference between online and in-store orders.

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Based on the research recorded, the smallest bowl ordered weighed 13.8 oz. and the largest measured in at 26.8 oz.

The different order methods, digital or in-store, did not prove to have much of a difference — the median store order weighed 21.4 oz. and the median digital order weighed 21.6 oz.

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To get the most accurate reading, the bowls were made up of rice, black beans, chicken, pico de gallo, cheese and lettuce, according to entrepreneur.com.

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The factor making the biggest impact on the data was the location in which the bowl was ordered.

“That said, consistency varied widely, w/ some locations serving bowls that weigh ~33% more than other locations (on equivalent orders); and the heaviest digital/in-store bowls weighing 87%/47% more vs the lightest,” the report stated.

With all the media coverage both positive and negative, Chipotle had a positive total revenue increase of 14.1%, compared to last year’s first quarter, to $2.7 billion, it reported on its website in April.

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