A downturn in supply of chicken wings has lead to higher wholesale prices for the football season diet staple, and that price increase is likely to get passed on to the end consumer.
For football fans who make a habit out of consuming copious chicken cuts each season, that hot wings annihilation tradition is going to take a lot bigger bite out of the budget in 2017.
According to Benjamin Parkin of the Wall Street Journal, wholesale prices for chicken wings have gone up nearly 20 percent (paywall) to a record $2.09 per pound because of depleted stockpiles and fewer supplies. This puts restaurateurs in a precarious position.
Faced with increased cost of goods, most businesses have to choose between a couple of undesirable options: either pass the price increase along to their customers or diminish the quantity of goods being sold. Neither solution will be popular with football fans who are used to getting a certain number of wings for a set price.
While there could be a possible solution in restaurants pushing “boneless wings,” which are made from cheaper cuts of chicken that are more readily available, fans who have a preference for traditional wings could be resistant. Perhaps a price increase for traditional wings might be enough to persuade those people to opt for the boneless variety. That all remains to be seen.
Maybe it’s time for restaurants to give serious thought to a piece of fake news that got some undeserved attention. Snopes debunked a story in 2016 which claimed that the FDA discovered that 300,000 pounds of meat sold as chicken wings were actually composed of rat meat. Rat legs probably look similar to chicken wings once fried and glazed, and couldn’t chickens just be considered the rats of the Gallus family?
Rats have gotten a bad reputation for spreading disease, which chickens are fully capable of doing as well. Rats are more intelligent and infinitely more clean animals than chickens. Rats also reproduce at a higher rate than chickens and require less food and space to live, making their meat more sustainable.
While chicken production tries to ramp up to recover and meet demand, the cost of wings is likely to skyrocket in the meantime. By the time the College Football Playoff and Super Bowl LII roll around, a platter of wings might be considered an extreme luxury item reserved for the elites.