RFID trial

Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to enhance its traceability and inventory systems at its Chicago distribution center and approximately 200 restaurants in the greater Chicago area


A leader in food safety, Chipotle is one of the first major restaurant companies to leverage RFID case labels to track ingredients from suppliers to restaurants via serialization.

The company has worked closely with the Auburn University RFID Lab to refine the pilot program, which is being tested on meat, dairy, and avocados from five Chipotle suppliers. Ingredients in the test arrive at Chipotle restaurants affixed with RFID enabled case labels and are scanned by RFID readers, which complement existing scanners in the restaurants, requiring minimal incremental investment. The tech-enabled traceability system is designed to allow the company to act on food safety and quality concerns swiftly, efficiently, and precisely.

Participating suppliers have invested in RFID technology using Chipotle specifications, which is anticipated to save suppliers time on inventory management and stock rotation, mitigate human error, and increase expiration date visibility and accountability. Chipotle invited key supply partners to participate in the test and provided partners with an RFID playbook with best practices and benefits of the program. The brand is leveraging its stage-gate process to test, listen and learn from employees and suppliers before deciding on a system-wide rollout of RFID labels.

Chipotle teamed up with industry-leading RFID partners including RFID software provider Mojix, materials science and RFID innovator Avery Dennison, and RFID reader and encoder solutions provider Zebra Technologies.