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Chipotle may raise prices

There’s bad news for fans of Chipotle. The Mexican restaurant is considering raising its prices.

The company blames food price inflation for the potential hike, according to the Chicago Tribune, saying the meat and dairy products are ingredients responsible for the raise.

The antibiotic-free meats and organic ingredients the chain serves up in its “premium” items, make the chain more susceptible to changes in food costs, as it frequently cannot nail down prices on these items, according to the Tribune.

The potential price hike won’t happen until at least midway through 2013, according to Chief Financial Officer of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. John Hartung, who announced the news at the ICR XChange Investor Conference on Thursday in Miami, Fl.

A typical Chipotle meal currently costs about $9, according to The Huffington Post.

Lately, Chipotle – which has 1,400 locations nationwide, including one recently erected in Hadley – has been taking a beating in the stock market, suffering setbacks due to both rising food prices and increased competition from chains such as the ever-cheap Taco Bell, according to HuffPost.

And of course, the slow economy has dampened people’s enthusiasm to go out for dinner.

But Chipotle has a plan.

Starting in March, the company is planning on unrolling a “significant” advertising campaign, according to the Tribune. Using radio, television, outdoor and print media, the company hopes to lure in more customers.

In addition to striving to bring more people through the doors, Chipotle will be experimenting with new menu items that can be produced at a cheaper cost.

One of the items the chain will be experimenting with is tofu, according to the Tribune. Starting next month, the chain will be selling “sofritas” in the San Francisco Bay area. Sofritas are made from a braised, shredded organic tofu.

Later this month, Chipotle will start offering a catering service in Chicago, according to the Tribune. They intend to make the service nationwide during the coming months.

The company is also dabbling in Asian Food. In 2011, it opened a Southeast Asian grill called ShopHouse in Washington D.C., according to the Tribune. They are planning to open a second ShopHouse in Los Angeles during the first half of this year.

Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.

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