Why Your Chicken Wing Obsession Might Get Expensive

This season may bring a tough challenge for sports fans: a chicken wing shortage.
Buffalo Chicken Wings

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Photo by: David Kadlec ©2014, David Kadlec. All rights reserved.

David Kadlec, 2014, David Kadlec. All rights reserved.

Football season is just kicking off, but this year may bring a new challenge for fans who like to snack while they watch the game (which is to say, all fans): a looming chicken wing shortage.

Just let the very concept coat your consciousness like hot, buttery buffalo sauce.

Wholesale prices for chicken wings have reached record highs, the Wall Street Journal reports, prompting sports bars and restaurants who serve them up to the hungry game-watching crowds to either hoist the prices on their menus, winnow portion sizes or cut back on their promotional offers.

“It’s a very big deal for everyone that has wings on their menu,” Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant analyst at the market research firm NPD, told the Journal.

Not to mention for everyone that orders wings from their menu.

The issue? Wing supply simply cannot keep up with soaring demand. Americans just cannot get enough wings, gobbling them up as speedily as they are produced. (What, they can make cars that drive themselves, but they can’t make four-winged chickens?)

Consequently, restaurants that focus on wings, like Buffalo Wild Wings and Wingstop, are flying high and rapidly expanding, even as other kinds of food-service enterprises are fumbling, Bloomberg reports. What’s more, pizza chains, delis and grocery stores are increasingly offering wings as an option as well.

All of that translates to a lot of wings going down a lot of gullets — and prices that have risen to $2.09 a pound in August from $1.50 per pound the year prior amidst increasingly scarce supply, Bloomberg reports. That’s driving some companies to increasingly try to sell consumers on “boneless” wings, which are made from breast meat and sound more like chicken tenders. We’ll see how they fly with the wing-craving masses.

Photo: iStock
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