Whether it’s buffalo, lemon pepper or even barbecue, there are millions of people who love the taste of chicken wings. But fans of wings may be a bit disappointed because of the new shortage.
The chicken shortage can be attributed to a few different factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Chicken Council dubbed chicken “The Nation’s #1 Quarantine Protein.”
The nation’s chicken wars and cravings for comfort food during the pandemic have made poultry so scarce and expensive that some restaurants are limiting or running out of chicken sandwiches, wings and tenders.
Wings have been particularly popular, according to Tom Super, senior vice president of the National Chicken Council.
“Restaurants like wing joints and pizza places were built around takeout and delivery, so they didn’t have to change their business model that much during the pandemic,” Super said in a statement to WebMD. “Each chicken only has two wings and producers don’t raise chickens just for the wings, they have to sell all of the other parts, as well.”
The chicken industry also took two major hits in February. In Texas, a rare severe winter storm resulted in the death of millions of chickens. Even worse, this event took place around the same time as the wing industry’s biggest event of the year: Super Bowl Sunday. This year, Americans ate an estimated 1.42 billion wings, according to the National Chicken Council.
Changing the Look of Wings
There’s so much of a shortage that wing restaurants are changing their format.
Chicken wing powerhouse, Wingstop is expanding its body of chicken offerings with Thighstop, an online-only, temporary restaurant that will deliver chicken thighs via DoorDash amid a chicken shortage.
The “new thigh concept” will be available at more than 1,400 locations nationwide and is addressing the “consumer’s fear of a chicken wing shortage head-on,” the company said in a release provided by Thighstop spokesperson Megan Sprague.
“We think they’ll appeal to guests because they’re a different part of the chicken and therefore a new way to experience Wingstop flavor,” Charlie Morrison, CEO and chairman of Wingstop restaurants, told USA TODAY.
“They eat like a wing, but with more meat,” Morrison continued.
Rising Wing Prices
The shortage of chicken wings is also raising menu prices across the board. The price per pound for a whole chicken averaged