September 27, 2022

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‘Whole new dimension’ to orders

Chipotle (CMG) is adding a bit more Latin flavor to its menus in the U.S. and Canada — but only for a limited time.

Pollo asado (or “grilled chicken” in English) is the first chicken menu innovation in Chipotle’s 29-year history. The poultry is grilled and seared daily, and tossed in a spice blend, bright marinade, fresh squeezed lime, and cilantro.

“Chicken is easily our most popular protein, with many of our most loyal Chipotle customers ordering it the majority of the time,” Chris Brandt, the chain’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

“We’re thrilled to introduce fans to another flavor of chicken that brings a whole new dimension to any Chipotle order and will certainly be a crowd pleaser,” Brandt added.

To celebrate the launch, Chipotle is offering $0 delivery fees on all pollo asado orders placed through the Chipotle app and Chipotle.com, from March 14 through March 20 in the U.S.

In Canada, guests can enjoy the same offer from March 13 through March 20.

Chipotle's new Pollo Asado menu item (Courtesy: Chipotle)

Chipotle’s new Pollo Asado menu item (Courtesy: Chipotle)

Last November, the Mexican fast casual chain tested pollo asado in select restaurants across Sacramento and Cincinnati. Customer feedback and sales were on par with the test market results of smoked brisket, Chipotle’s bestselling innovation in the company’s recent history.

That helped Chipotle beat earnings estimates in its most recent quarter with same-store sales soaring 15.2% — above analyst expectations of 14.8% growth. Additionally, the chain saw a significant uptick in digital sales, which surged 3.8% year-over-year and accounted for 41.6% of the company’s total sales in Q4.

Price increases also did their part to drive another quarter of strong profits. Yet longtime Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung told Yahoo Finance that, despite continued inflation in beef, labor, transportation and avocados, the company would prefer to avoid more price hikes in the future.

Still, Hartung noted that the chain could raise prices successfully if needed — as ingredient costs may not retreat until “the earliest, the end of 2022, maybe even into 2023.”

He added: “We still feel like we have a lot of room [to raise prices]. What I mean by that is we hope to never find out. We have never had resistance when we raise prices, and we hope to never find out we went a little too far,” Hartung said, adding that he sees raising prices as “more of a last resort.”

In the U.S., the average price of an entrée with pollo asado is $9.11 — a 65-cent increase from its classic adobo chicken offering.

The news comes as other fast food chains like Taco Bell (YUM) are bringing back fan favorites of the past in a bid to keep up with consumer demand.

Earlier this week, the fast food giant announced that nacho fries will be making a comeback beginning March 10.

The fries, priced at $1.49, can also be purchased as part of a Nacho Fries Box for $5.49, which includes the fries, a burrito, a taco and a medium-sized drink.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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