Global Restaurant Chain Begins Deploying RFID to Improve Food Safety and Inventory | Item

Large international restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to improve its tracking and inventory systems at its Chicago distribution center and approximately 200 restaurants in the greater Chicago area.

Chipotle is one of the first major foodservice companies to leverage RFID checkout tags to track ingredients from vendors to restaurants via serialization to improve food safety throughout its supply chain.

“RFID tags turn inventory management into an automatic digital function that optimizes restaurant operations and gives our restaurant support centers access to real-time inventory data,” said Scott Boatwright, Director of Restaurants of the company. “This integrated technology enhances the experience of our employees at participating restaurants while benefiting our supply partners.”

Chipotle has teamed up with leading RFID partners including RFID software provider Mojix, materials science and one of the largest RFID inlay developers, Avery Dennison, and reader and scanner solutions provider Zebra Technologies RFID encoder, both members of AIPIA.

The company is committed to Food with Integrity standards and purchased more than 35 million pounds of locally grown produce in 2021. It has spent more than $400 million on food rewards over the past two years to buy responsibly sourced and cruelty-free ingredients. The brand is now giving more transparency about the direct source of its ingredients and has worked closely with Auburn University’s RFID lab to refine the pilot program, which is being tested on meat, dairy and avocados. of five Chipotle suppliers.

Ingredients for the test arrive at Chipotle restaurants with RFID-enabled checkout tags and are scanned by RFID readers, which complement existing scanners in restaurants, requiring minimal additional investment, it says. The technology-based traceability system is designed to enable the company to act quickly, efficiently and accurately on food safety and quality issues.

Participating vendors have invested in RFID technology using Chipotle specifications, which should save vendors time on inventory management and inventory turns, mitigate human error, and increase visibility and responsibility for the expiration date. The restaurant chain invited key supply partners to participate in the test and provided the partners with an RFID handbook with best practices and program benefits. The brand leverages its stage process to test, listen and learn from employees and suppliers before deciding on a full-scale deployment of the RFID tag system.

“We’ve been developing our RFID program for two years and see this innovation as the next evolution in traceability and food safety,” said Laurie Schalow, director of corporate affairs and food safety. “We are excited to field test this innovation with our suppliers and restaurants to enhance our robust traceability program.”

Chipotle had more than 2,950 restaurants as of Dec. 31, 2021 in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Germany and is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all of its restaurants, it says. -she.

This article was created in collaboration with AIPIA (Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association). Packaging Europe and AIPIA join forces to bring news and commentary on the active and smart packaging landscape to a wider audience. To learn more about this partnership, click here.

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