Chipotle Mexican Grill, one of America's largest fast-casual food chains, has made an investment into Zero Acre Farms, a developer of sustainable cooking oil (and a FootPrint Coalition Ventures portfolio company).
The investment is part of Chipotle's broader sustainability goals and was made through the company's Cultivate Next fund, which launched last year.
The fund was designed to invest in "emerging innovation that will enhance our employee and guest experience, and quite possibly revolutionize the restaurant industry," said Curt Garner, Chief Technology Officer, Chipotle, in an announcement about the fund.
An investment in Zero Acre Farms certainly fits the bill. The company is developing cooking oils that have greater health benefits for consumers and can reduce costs for restaurants.
Importantly, Zero Acre's oils are also better for the environment.
As Chipotle noted in its announcement of the investment, vegetable oils produced today contribute to record rates of deforestation and carbon emissions, and "Zero Acre Farms has a new category of healthy oils and fats made by fermentation that are more environmentally friendly."
a food company focused on healthy, sustainable oils and fats that is on a mission to end the food industry's dependence on vegetable oils. The immense amount of vegetable oils produced today contribute to record rates of deforestation and carbon emissions, and Zero Acre Farms has a new category of healthy oils and fats made by fermentation that are more environmentally friendly."
Already available to consumers directly, Zero Acre Farms is now making a push to reach out to more food services customers and restaurants, according to chief executive, Jeff Nobbs.
"With Chipotle's backing, along with the support of our other incredible investors, we hope to make the transition to healthier, more sustainable cooking oils as easy as possible for restaurants of all sizes, without compromising on the taste of the foods we all love," Nobbs wrote on LinkedIn announcing the new funding.
"We have a ton of respect for the Chipotle team and everything they do on a daily basis to cultivate a better world through food.," Nobbs wrote "They are leading the way in this industry and their investment in Zero Acre is a testament to their commitment to continue doing so."