Over the eight years I’ve spent compiling evidence that brands can both maximize profit and be a force for social good, the question I’ve been asked most often is: “What’s the business case for sustainability?”
The answer is: a $9 burrito.
From 2006 to 2011, revenues tripled at Chipotle, a U.S. food chain selling responsibly sourced burritos. That last year, total annual revenue reached $2.2 billion, same-store sales increased 11.2 percent, and restaurant operating margins hit 25.9 percent. In just the second quarter of 2014, revenue rose 29 percent to $1.05 billion, same-store sales rose 17.3 percent, and restaurant operating margins hit 27.3 percent, counting .03 percent losses resulting from higher food and ...