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Customers Are No Longer Craving Chipotle: Report Finds Foodborne Illnesses Continues To Kill Appetites

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Stick a fork in it: Chipotle is done.

While the chain is still open for business, it appears that it has lost its mass appeal with consumers.

According to new survey, Chipotle continues to struggle to get customers to dine at its establishment.

The financial company Morgan Stanley surveyed a total of 2,000 customers in June, with 720 of the participants reporting to eat at Chipotle. According to the survey, 13 percent of people reported that they do not plan on going back to the establishment for a meal.

While this might seem like a small number, 13 percent of customers also said that they have reduced the amount of times they eat at Chipotle. This means that about 25 percent of customers surveyed are visiting less or stopped visiting Chipotle altogether.

Based on this report, Morgan Stanley analyst John Glass revealed on Friday that a full recovery for the chain could take much longer than previously expected.

A similar survey the company conducted back in January revealed that 15 percent of people asked would not return to the restaurant, which goes to show just how slowly it is taking to build up consumers' trust.

Chipotle Mexican Grill was once a popular fast food restaurant adored by millennials and pretty much everyone who enjoys tacos and burritos. Part of its appeal was the ability to see orders be made in front of the customer while casually dining. Of course, it also prides itself for having "food with integrity," meaning it uses naturally-raised meat and chicken, organic produce and dairy without added hormones.

However, Chipotle faced some food safety problems last year, after foodborne illnesses like E. coli, salmonella and norovirus spread in across its locations in the U.S.

It's pretty clear that these foodborne illnesses have killed — and continue to kill — the appetites of consumers.

After the results of the latest survey, Glass downgraded the rating on Chipotle's stock. The company's shares are down 1.7 percent.

The analyst said that it could be years before Chipotle is back at its once-healthy place business-wise.

This news comes after another survey was released on Tuesday that revealed that concerns about food safety is now low, but 13 percent of people said they were still "very worried" about it.

This survey was conducted by William Blair and included 800 participants who were asked about their Chipotle eating habits and if they were concerned about the safety of the food since November 2015.

The report found that approximately 45 percent of participants reported to eating at the Mexican chain less, with 26 percent revealing they haven't gone back since the E. coli outbreak.

Meanwhile, Chipotle is attempting to win back its customers by offering new menu items and a rewards program.

It might take more than this to get the chain back into the hearts and stomachs of America.

Source: CNBC

Photo: kennejima | Flickr

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