Operations

Chipotle doubles down on Cultivate Next

To celebrate the venture fund's two-year anniversary, the fast-casual chain commits another $50 million to bring the investment pool to $100 million.
Farm
Cultivate Next has backed ventures that support Chipotle's commitment to local produce and more sustainable operations. |Photo courtesy of Chipotle

Chipotle is celebrating the two-year anniversary of its Cultivate Next venture fund by doubling its commitment to it.

The once $50 million venture fund now has a $100 million investment pool, thanks to an additional $50 million from the fast-casual chain.

The fund was launched in 2022 to make early-stage investments in strategically aligned companies. Beneficiaries so far have included ventures like Hyphen, a tech company that developed an automated makeline Chipotle is now testing, as well as Local Line, a food-sourcing platform that helps link farms and producers with buyers. Chipotle said the platform has been a key partner in helping the chain reach its local produce sourcing goals.

In fact, Chipotle has upped its investment in both Hyphen and Local Line with the additional commitment to Cultivate Next, the company said, though specifics were not offered.

“Our decision to double our commitment to our Cultivate Next venture fund is a clear indicator that we are investing in the right companies that we can learn from and utilize to improve the human experience of our restaurant teams, farmers and suppliers,” said Curt Garner, Chipotle’s chief customer and technology officer, in a statement. “The parallel growth of Chipotle and our partners will continue to further our mission to cultivate a better world by increasing access to real food.”

Other Cultivate Next investments include:

  • Greenfield Robotics, which makes agricultural robots that can do the weeding in fields.
  • Nitricity, which makes more planet-friendly fertilizer.
  • Vebu, the tech company that developed the Autocado, a robot that peels and cores avocados, which Chipotle is testing and will likely get its first job in a restaurant this spring.
  • Meati Foods, which makes a meat alternative out of mushroom roots (really the mycelium).
  • Zero Acre Farms, which produces more-sustainable and healthful oils and fats as an alternative to seed and vegetable oils. Chipotle is also testing use of the oil at its test kitchen in Irvine, Calif.

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