Chipotle CEO Denies 'Shrinkflation' in Servings

By Jose Resurreccion

May 30, 2024 10:50 PM EDT

Chipotle To Close Restaurants For Few Hours For Food Safety Meeting
People walk past a Chipotle restaurant on Broadway in Lower Manhattan on February 8, 2016 in New York City. 
(Photo : Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images)

Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol dismissed social media claims that the restaurant's portion sizes have been shrinking due to inflation, which economic observers call "shrinkflation."

Speculation about the matter initially sparked on Reddit and TikTok, with users on the Chipotle subreddit saying they had noticed the serving changes. 

The public dissent also led some people to try secret but questionable methods of getting a bigger meal, such as filming workers while preparing their orders. 

However, some Chipotle workers expressed discomfort over the trend, saying that while they genuinely wanted to give their customers what they wanted, the trend of pointing a camera at their faces was "dehumanizing."

Niccol Denies 'Shrinkflation' in Food Servings

On the other hand, Niccol told Fortune in an exclusive interview published Thursday (May 30) that the claims of smaller portions due to higher prices were false. He said that the portions "have not gotten smaller" and told its customers to give workers a secret look and tell them outright about it if they wanted a bigger food portion.

Niccol also acknowledged that serving significant portions was part of the brand's image to "get them excited" about the food they serve. 

He separately told CNBC that the practice of customers filming their service crews was "rude."

On the other hand, Chipotle also stressed that customers videotaping staff would not guarantee its workers would give them bigger portions.

Chipotle's chief corporate affairs and food safety officer, Laurie Schalow, told CBS News that there were "no changes" in their portion sizes and that they were instilling the proper portioning of their food items on their service crews. 

READ NEXT: McDonald's Says $18 Big Mac Meal Was 'Exception' After Social Media Buzz Exaggerates Price Increase

MatPat's Connection to Chipotle Trend

Meanwhile, one of the factors that speculatively influenced the trend was a YouTube video created by the channel "The Food Theorists," in which Theorist Media CEO and showrunner Matthew "MatPat" Patrick shared ways to psychologically hack one's way to get more food at Chipotle or any fast-casual restaurant in a similar setting for free. 

In the video, which was posted in late February, MatPat shared that he and his team experimented on how individual Chipotle sites serve their customers in terms of speed of ordering, friendliness, order type, foot traffic, portion sizes based on the customer's gender, and the age and gender of the server working at the time of the experiment.

VCPost understands that Patrick has since retired from presenting on the channel and three other major theorist media channels (The Game TheoristsThe Film Theorists, and The Style Theorists) but still produces content behind the camera.

Patrick said in the video that a follow-up episode on the matter would be produced in the future, but it remains to be seen when the channel's new presenter, Santi Massa, would upload such a YouTube video.

READ MORE: California's Landmark Price Transparency Law to Go Into Effect in July - Here's What You Need to Know

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