Did Chipotle change its guacamole recipe? Fans upset by 'brown' guac

Is this another indicator of a pending avocado shortage or just seasonal woes?
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/ Source: TODAY
By Erica Chayes Wida

Slicing open a seemingly ripe avocado only to be confronted with brown streaks and a stringy texture is unfortunate. Paying extra for a heaping scoop of brown, stringy guac is arguably worse. But, apparently, that's been happening to a lot of Chipotle customers lately.

Over the past few weeks, tweets have been popping up purportedly showing guacamole being served at the burrito chain that looked brown, filled with unripe chunks and just generally not very pretty.

The posts have prompted many to wonder if the chain, which is known for its bright green guac, had changed its recipe or was just simply selling an inferior product.

One tweeter, whose account is based in Clearwater, Florida, posted photos of the inedible guac.

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Another tweeter claimed a Chipotle in Baltimore "has been nothing but a disappointment lately." Twitter users with accounts based in New York and Pennsylvania also complained about the chain's unsightly guacamole.

Of course, it's sometimes easy to forget that the trendy topping is, like all produce, subject to seasonal changes, bad harvests and shortages.

Chipotle's social media team has been replying promptly to many posts to discuss complaints directly with displeased patrons.

But has Chipotle really changed its signature recipe? Not exactly.

When reached by TODAY Food, Laurie Schalow, Chipotle's chief reputation officer, attributed the guac's change in appearance to the source of the supply.

"Due to the seasonal transition from Peruvian to Mexican suppliers that happens every year at this time, we are experiencing normal variabilities in our avocados but we can assure our customers that our guac is still being freshly prepared in our restaurants every day," Schalow said.

Mexico is the largest supplier of avocados to the U.S. But amid rising costs, American food purveyors have increasingly been turning to other sources. America usually gets just 10% of its avocados imported from other countries, including Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic. Business Insider reported that the number of avocados imported from Peru this year more than doubled from the same time period in 2018.

Between a rising demand, fluctuating prices and President Donald Trump's threats to shut down the Mexican border in April, Americans' lust for all things avocado has been under threat.

In March 2018, Steve Barnard, chief executive and president of Mission Produce, the largest grower and distributer of avocados in the world, told The New York Times that his company was "scrambling" to keep up with America's booming desire for the creamy green fruit. Since the early 2000s, the company has grown between 10%-15% each year to meet the rising demand.

While both Mexico and Peru export Hass avocados, there are inherent differences in the crop due to the climate of each country. Peruvian avocados tend to have a thicker, bumpier green skin due to the country's arid growing conditions. They also take longer to ripen.

A Chipotle spokesperson clarified that the switch to Peruvian avocados occurs annually during Mexico's off season (which is summertime in the U.S.) and was not due to a rise in cost. However, with the switch, the ripeness and quality of the chain's guacamole can be affected during the time period Chipotle transitions back to sourcing avocados from its Mexican suppliers. July and August make up Peru's peak avocado season, which may account for the less-than-stellar crop seen at some locations in early September.

"We started transitioning out of Peruvian avocados at the end of August and this transition usually lasts about two weeks," the spokesperson told TODAY.

At least the national chain isn't secretly swapping avocados with a lookalike squash.