The program, Chipotle Virtual Farmers Market, will be hosted on Shopify – a multinational e-commerce platform and point-of-sale system. Farmers who take part in this program will be able to sell meat, dairy and grain products directly to U.S. consumers.
Moreover, Chipotle will pay for the hosting of these new farm websites for two years, which can range between $29 and $299 per month, according to Shopify’s current pricing.
The Mexican-inspired quick-service chain added that it will also provide design and development support.
"It can be intimidating for many family farms to change the way they do business, so we're giving our suppliers the right tools and resources to successfully launch improved eCommerce platforms," Chipotle Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt wrote in a statement. "Our Food with Integrity values start with our farmers and helping them adapt to new technologies and ways of reaching the consumer is crucial for both the future of the farming industry and Chipotle."
While Chipotle and Shopify have reportedly hosted “virtual onboarding sessions” in the last month, four Chipotle suppliers – Niman Ranch, Petaluma Creamery, McKaskle Family Farm and Meister Cheese – are kickstarting the program with custom e-commerce websites.
The four suppliers are featured on the homepage of Chipotle’s dedicated Virtual Farmers Market website.
"This new Virtual Farmers' Market gives an opportunity for my farm, and hundreds of other small, sustainable farmers like me in the Niman Ranch network raising livestock humanely and without antibiotics, to remain sustainable and resilient through hard times," Kirsten Eckerman of Niman Ranch said in Chipotle’s press release.
In 2019, the global online grocery market size was valued at $189.81 billion, according to market research firm Grand View Research. The market is reportedly projected to register a compound annual growth rate of 24.8 percent by 2027.