05 Nov Yael Cypers
From Blue Apron to Chipotle – Managing Meat Sustainability
It’s a go-to favorite for many people but have you ever thought of why the food is so delicious at Chipotle? Yael Cypers can. She points directly at the company that brings high quality ingredients into an accessible and affordable light through elimination of inefficiencies within the supply chain. A former sustainability supply chain manager for Blue Apron, scaling to the Chipotle model to manage meat sustainability was a job that she had been thinking about since Yael was a young girl.
An Interest in Food Accessibility
The daughter of a teacher, when Yael’s mom moved from her teaching position at a private school to a public school, Yael was made aware of the difference in meals provided by the schools. Apples wrapped in plastic wrap and cold hard muffins; it didn’t seem fair that food access wasn’t the same everywhere!
This was an injustice that would haunt her and become a worldly question that this food lover was bound to correct. To Yael, high-quality food IS her art whether it’s a meal that she creates herself or a plate she is admiring at a nice restaurant, she finds beauty in quality ingredients, combined in delicious gourmet ways.
Armed with a degree in food science, Yael had proactively held four to five different internships throughout her undergrad. Mainly working in test kitchens, none of her work centered around supply chains. However, these internships would provide valuable contacts that she still calls upon to this day. A way that she can follow up with these contacts is through her love of reading all things food science industry; when she uncovers a new article or report that reminds her of a contact or connection, she uses it as an organic and authentic way to continue the conversation.
While the goal had been a job with a food magazine, testing recipes, taking photos and creating articles, she found herself taking a temporary job with Blue Apron – a start-up company in the early hustle stages.
“Why couldn’t anyone go to the grocery store and get their own groceries?” Yael found herself asking but, once there, she found herself submerged into the company’s mission and realized that her passions were equally aligned: Making incredible food accessible, removing the middleman and sourcing directly from farmers.
From Temp to Full Time
Yael’s future may have rested on her ability to boldly stand up for herself, a confidence in her skillset and an ability to express that to her boss. She was able to pitch that while she may not know everything, she had the assets necessary to get the job done and grow with the job. This, along with taking on the roles that others didn’t want, moved Yael into a full time position in supply chain sourcing.
“I was crazy passionate, which is something my co workers probably still know me as,” Yael says almost sheepishly. That passion developed at Blue Apron. She learned that as you purchase, you can scale, you can create your own relationships, you can shape your own supply chain and eliminate a lot of the things that create challenges.
Attracted to Chipotle right away by the charismatic way this chef-created fast-casual restaurant style led, it had many similar attributes to Blue Apron but on a larger scale. The ability to make a significant impact due to scale was exciting for Yael.
As Chipotle continues to grow quickly, naysayers think that it will be impossible for it to maintain their high standards on such a large scale. The truth is quite the opposite. Yael works hard with the teams to ensure that the current high level of standard is kept and continually exceeded.
Lowering their standards is not a compromise that Chipotle is even remotely interested in considering. They go beyond and continue to be a leader.
Impacting the Supply Chain Ecosystem
With their fast-paced growth, questions of whether the providers they currently have will be able to scale at the same pace arises. While Chipotle stays loyal to those suppliers that have been with them for 15-20 years, they are also taking on new suppliers who are adapting to the standards of animal welfare and quality that Chipotle requires.
As Chipotle grows the market, Yael explains, they do not buy the whole animal – just specific cuts. This means that the remaining cuts raised in that same standard of excellence will now become available on the market at a more affordable price. While this shift may seem natural, it is the direct impact of hardworking employees that care about sustainable agriculture and creating sustainable supply chains.
“If you are super passionate and willing to work extremely hard, voice unique opinions and follow up those opinions – they will lead you to where you are meant to be.” ~ Yael Cypers
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