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Chipotle’s food disruptor investment program includes an ostrich farm

Eight planet-friendly startups chosen for mentorship project

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. revealed the first eight food disruptor companies the chain plans to work with under its new charitable program, called the Chipotle Aluminaries Project.

The eight companies, announced Monday, were selected for their work in promoting positive change in the food industry, Chipotle said.

They will participate in a seven-month-long accelerator program where Chipotle will offer resources and mentorship from corporate executives as well industry leaders like tech entrepreneur Kimbal Musk.

"Since our founding, Chipotle has been committed to cultivating a better world, and we believe the best way to lead the future of food is to inspire others to come along with us on the journey and be a force for good in our industry," said Brian Niccol, Chipotle CEO, in a statement.

The Newport Beach, Calif.-based fast-casual chain did not reveal the capital investment the company is making with each organization.


The businesses selected include: AgVoice (tracking of plant and animal production), American Ostrich Farms (alternative red meat with less impact to environmental footprint), Asarasi (renewable water from maple trees), Grubtubs (turns food waste into insect-based animal feed), ImpactVision (real time quality control through the use of hyperspectral imaging ), Novolyze (food safety bio-tech company), Rex Animal Health (machine learning to improve livestock health) and Sophie's Kitchen Plant-Based Seafood (plant-based seafood alternatives).

Niccol said the companies “represent the best and brightest of what's next in the food industry.”

The first set of meetings begin in March with a five-day boot camp. Each company will receive coaching from Musk and “Top Chef” celebrity Richard Blais, as well as Chipotle executives

 Caitlin Leibert, director of sustainability at Chipotle, is one of the mentors.

"Changing the food landscape is bigger than just Chipotle and the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, and while we are proud of our efforts, we can't do it alone,” Leibert said in a statement. “Together with these ventures and the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, we know we can make a real impact.”

The Chipotle Aluminaries Project is partnering with Uncharted, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization formed to address social problems like urban poverty and food deserts. 

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @FastFoodMaven

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