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America's Favorite Fast-Casual Chain Is Cheaper Than Similar Competitors, Survey Shows

Despite double-digit price hikes, the chain was named a "value leader."

Although Chipotle has made headlines for its ongoing price hikes, it turns out the burrito giant is less expensive than its rivals.

According to a menu pricing report from global financial services firm BTIG, the fast-casual darling is currently 10.7% cheaper than Qdoba, 9.2% cheaper than Moe's Southwest Grill, and about 5% cheaper than Baja Fresh.

The report, which surveyed menu prices across 25 cities, found that Chipotle's chicken-based meals—which make up about 60% of its sales—have gone up in price by 19% since 2018. Meanwhile, at Qdoba and Moe's, the cost of chicken entrees increased by 21.5% and 28.1%, respectively.

Steak-based meals followed a similar trend, with Qdoba and Moe's raising prices by 25.8% and 32.8%, while Chipotle's steak items went up by 23%.

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The report's findings come just a few months after Chipotle upped its prices by 4%, which followed multiple rounds of price increases that first began in the spring of 2021.

Outside of the Mexican fast-food space, Chipotle was also found to be less costly than emerging fast-casual chains, such as Chopt and Sweetgreen, which are 13.5 and 12% higher in pricing.

Despite the report dubbing Chipotle the "value leader in the fast casual Mexican category," analysts don't anticipate the price increases to stop anytime soon.

"We expect Chipotle to continue to raise menu prices, but at a more moderate pace than many of its peers, maintaining its value proposition," Peter Saleh, managing director and restaurants analyst at BTIG, wrote in the report.

Additionally, the report highlighted that while many of Chipotle's competitors have closed locations since 2018, Chipotle continues to grow. The chain, which currently operates 3,000 restaurants, aims to reach 7,000 locations across North America. More than 80% of those units will feature a Chipotlane—a digital order-only drive-thru lane format that has driven sales up to 20% higher than traditional stores.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna