By Mary-Lynn Cesar
GMOs are no longer available at Chipotle. But that's not the only healthy-ish shift happening in food today.
In a move that will make Food Babe happy and probably garner an eyeroll from Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) announced Monday that it has removed all genetically modified ingredients from its menu. As The Wall Street Journal reports, this makes Chipotle the first major restaurant chain in the US to adopt a strict non-GMO stance.
Chipotle's decision comes at a time when anti-GMO sentiment is spreading faster than Monsanto (NYSE:MON) seeds. In 1999, according to a Gallup poll, only 27 percent of Americans thought genetically modified food was dangerous. As of 2014, 48 percent believed genetically modified foods "pose a serious health hazard."
Unlike the US, the EU heavily regulates genetically modified crops, though the European Commission ended a year-long block on imports last week when it authorized the import of 10 crops and two types of cut flowers. That's not to say that the EU is suddenly gung ho on GMO: Monsanto's maize MON810 is the only genetically modified crop being cultivated in the bloc.
Chipotle's GMO-free menu isn't the only major shakeup happening in the food space. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) is removing unfamiliar ingredients, including maltodextrin - a form of powdered starch - and sodium phosphates, from its grilled chicken sandwiches. Dunkin' Donuts (NASDAQ:DNKN) is also trimming its list of ingredients and eliminating whitening agent titanium dioxide from its powdered doughnuts.
PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) is ditching aspartame, an artificial sweetener, for sucralose aka Splenda, another artificial sweetener. And Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA) will be rid of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners by 2016.
McDonald's and Pepsi are revamping their menus in an attempt to fight declining sales. Dunkin' Donuts said its investors influenced the company's decision to stop using the whitener. And while Panera Bread has a history of voluntary changes - the Christian Science Monitor points out that the company posted calories on menus before it was mandatory - the latest move coincides with a growing conscientiousness when it comes to food quality.
Will these shifts help these companies boost sales?
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1. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.: Develops and operates fast-casual, fresh Mexican food restaurants in the United States. Market cap at $19.79B, most recent closing price at $637.50.
Sales growth past 5 years at 22.00%.
Sales growth quarter over quarter at 20.40%.
2. Dunkin' Brands Group Inc.: Operates, and franchises quick service restaurants worldwide. Market cap at $5.23B, most recent closing price at $54.03.
Sales growth past 5 years at 6.80%.
Sales growth quarter over quarter at 8.10%.
3. McDonald's Corp.: Operates as a foodservice retailer worldwide. Market cap at $94.70B, most recent closing price at $98.74.
Sales growth past 5 years at 3.80%.
Sales growth quarter over quarter at -11.10%.
4. PepsiCo Inc.: Engages in the manufacture, marketing, and sale of foods, snacks, and carbonated and non-carbonated beverages worldwide. Market cap at $140.48B, most recent closing price at $95.17.
Sales growth past 5 years at 9.10%.
Sales growth quarter over quarter at -3.20%.
5. Panera Bread Company: Operates, and franchises retail bakery-cafes in the United States and Canada. Market cap at $4.93B, most recent closing price at $184.36.
Sales growth past 5 years at 13.30%.
Sales growth quarter over quarter at 1.60%.
(List compiled by Mary-Lynn Cesar. Monthly return data sourced from Zacks Investment Research. All other data sourced from FINVIZ.)