June 23, 2024

Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol is pushing back on claims that the restaurant chain is skimping on food portions.

“First, I can tell you, the portions have not gotten smaller,” Niccol told Fortune in a new interview.

Niccol said that if customers want more of certain food items, such as rice or pico, customers just have to give employees a slight look. He followed that up with a slight nod, adding that, “usually our guys and women give them a little more scoop.”

Niccol, who started the CEO job in 2018, said the fast casual chain always aims to give customers “big portions” that will “get them excited about the food.”

In a separate interview, Niccol told CNBC that Chipotle has “never” shrunk its food portions since he joined the company, something “that’s never changed.” Even so, if customers want double the portions of a certain item, “you gotta pay for it,” Niccol said.

Chipotle’s pushback on portion sizes comes as the inflation economy continues to hit fast food giants hard. Earlier this week, a top McDonald’s executive pushed back on claims that the chain has increased prices by 100%.

But Chipotle has had its own challenges. In April, the company told its employees in an email to choose another protein option instead of adding chicken to their meals while they worked, primarily due to a surge in demand for its Al Pastor chicken.

During that same time, the company reported earnings in which it said that higher-earning consumers weren’t being spooked by its 7% increase in menu prices, noting that it saw a 7% increase in sales during the first quarter of the year. Niccol also said that the company had “prototypes in” of its Autocado robot, which it began testing last July. The robot is designed to cut, core, and peel avocados.

Niccol said Chipotle plans to deploy some of the robots at its busier locations this year. In March, he said the robots would to give customers “consistent portion sizes.”

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