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Chipotle Tests Plant-Based Chorizo in Select Markets

Chipotle says its plant-based chorizo 'is made with ingredients grown on a farm, not in a lab.'

Chipotle Mexican Grill  (CMG) - Get Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Report said Thursday that it was testing its own plant-based chorizo in select markets as the restaurant chain moves forward without Beyond Meat  (BYND) - Get Beyond Meat, Inc. Report or Impossible Foods.

Shares of the Newport Beach, Calif., company were up nearly 1% to $1,865. Beyond Meat was slipping 2.31% to $116.10.

Beyond Meat and Impossible have been frequent collaborators with restaurant chain operators.

Chipotle, which has been selling soy-based sofritas for years, said its plant-based chorizo "is made with ingredients grown on a farm, not in a lab" and "is certified vegan, made with ingredients that you can pronounce and never frozen."

Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer, told Bloomberg that Chipotle decided to go it alone on the new item because some other plant-based foods contain too many unhealthy additives.

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The plant-based chorizo will be available in a trial in about 100 stores in Denver, Indianapolis and Orange County, California.

Beyond Meat shares took a hit in May when Tyson Foods said it was expanding its plant-based meat offerings with vegan pork and beef burger patties in a bid to meet increased demand.

Restaurants around the country have been serving more plant-based meat alternatives, the market research company NPD Group said earlier this summer.

Shipments of plant-based proteins grew 60% in April from the same month last year when the category saw declines due to COVID-19 restrictions; and 16% from April 2019, according to NPD’s SupplyTrack, which reports on products shipped to more than 700,000 restaurants and foodservice outlets from leading distributors.

Earlier this month, Yum Brands’  (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM) Report Pizza Hut unit said it was offering Beyond Meat’s plant-based non-meat pepperoni topping on pizzas in almost 70 locations in five U.S. cities.

Last month, Chipotle reported stronger-than-expected results for the second quarter. In June, the stock was upgraded to strong buy from outperform by analysts at Raymond James.