Food Day(s)’s Socially Responsible Business Seminar

In honor of the National Food Day 2011, Stanford is hosting an extended “Food Day(s)” programming that began this past Monday and continues through Monday, October 24th. Today I attended one of the Food Day(s) events, hosted at the GSB: the Socially Responsible Food Business Seminar. The event featured three speakers:

I was the most impressed and engaged by Lucas. He did a great job contrasting his two roles: as the president of a small sustainable food company and the advisor to a massive chain. Specifically he highlighted the power of each operation to make an impact on its supply chain. Laloo’s has less than $1M in sales which translates to less than $500K in purchasing power. On the other hand, Chipotle is close to $2B in sales and over $700M in purchasing power. When they want their suppliers to make a change, they have massive bargaining power.

Lucas had a lot of great things to say about Chipotle: that Steve Ells has made a real commitment to source “food with integrity” and that he’s done a terrific job of entrenching this value into Chipotle’s culture and business model. He’s brought all his stakeholders into contact with the issue and frequently spends all his time on investor calls talking just about food wit integrity. When asked if Steve is also investing his own resources into food startups, Lucas made a great point. Even if Steve is investing millions into innovative startups, his potential impact via that channel is dwarfed by the opportunity he has to make an impact via the Chipotle supply chain.

Lucas ended his talk with one of my favorite videos made by Chipotle set to Willie Nelson singing Coldplay’s The Scientist. So great and worth it if you have a few minutes:

About Michelle Paratore

Management consultant obsessed with food justice, food politics, food start-ups, food sustainability, and eating food too...
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