- Hollis Johnson
Chipotle can’t give customers what they want when it comes to queso.
“The bottom line is that we are not going to be able to replicate the gooey consistency of the queso you might get at the ballpark or at a movie theater because those products are not made from real ingredients,” Chipotle’s chief marketing officer Mark Crumpacker said in a memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg.
Crumpacker’s admission is basically the chain’s defense of queso in a nutshell.
“Most [quesos are] made with a bunch of artificial ingredients (stabilizers, preservatives and artificial flavors, for example) and that is not something we do,” Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold told Business Insider last week.
“Given the pre-conceived notion many people have about what queso is (and isn’t), we knew there would be some who didn’t like it based on the simple fact that ours is different, largely because it’s not made with artificial ingredients,” Arnold continued.
Chipotle's queso is actually a crime against cheese pic.twitter.com/TTnYmS3dPg
— amanda (@fabbrilous) September 15, 2017
The problem is that Arnold says that customers’ biggest issue with queso is the texture.
Chipotle is apparently unable to fix the texture while only using Chipotle-approved all-natural ingredients. Since the company has built its entire brand on its all-natural, fast-casual image, it can’t back peddle and start adding preservatives into its queso to get the proper gooey texture.
According to Arnold, queso sales and customer reactions in test markets were sufficiently encouraging so the chain decided to roll out queso at all locations. But, things aren’t looking great for Chipotle right now.
Goldman Sachs recently downgraded Chipotle shares, due to a “very negative reaction to the queso launch.” Customers have called the dip a “crime against cheese” and “expired Velveeta.” Business Insider’s own taste test of the queso raised concerns regarding the texture.
Prior to the national rollout of queso, Chipotle executives were selling the dip as an innovation that could save the chain after two years of slumping sales. But, the chain failed to realize that when customers demanded queso, they wanted actual queso – the gooey, luxurious, drippy dip, not an all-natural alternative with a stewy, grainy consistency.