A chicken wing shortage may be coming ahead of the Super Bowl. The originators of the Buffalo wing aren’t worried.

Chicken wings. AP Photo/Matthew Mead
  • Outlets are reporting a shortage of chicken wings ahead of the Super Bowl.
  • Managers at two famous wing destinations said that they were not worried about a shortage.
  • Reports of chicken wing shortages often pop up in the weeks before the Super Bowl.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

In the week before the Super Bowl, some restaurant chains and retail experts are warning about potential shortages of chicken wings, a staple accouterment for watching the big game.

But in the birthplace of the chicken wing, nobody seems very worried.

Wing prices have risen throughout the pandemic because demand keeps increasing, The Washington Post reported. Restaurant visits were down 11%, but wing sales actually increased 7%, according to The National Chicken Council.

Pizza and wings were hailed as early winners in the pandemic as Americans increasingly ordered from brands that were already set up to accommodate delivery, like Papa John’s and Wingstop. Meanwhile, the rest of the industry saw huge losses up to $US30 billion in March and $US50 billion in April.

Wings in particular have been so popular that they spurred the creation of ghost kitchens on food delivery apps, with Chilli’s and Applebee’s each launching virtual wing restaurants.

Early on in the pandemic in April of 2020, the price per pound of chicken wings actually fell below $US1. Wings are now up to $US2.65 per pound, ten cents up from the week before, according to Restaurant Business Online.

Cold storage stocks of wing supplies are currently at the lowest they have been since 2011, Restaurant Business Online reported. Less than a year ago, there was a wing surplus after March Madness was cancelled, as the tournament is another peak for wing sales in a typical year.

A Buffalo tradition

Insider asked the experts in Buffalo, New York, the home of Buffalo wings if they were also predicting a shortage.

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Despite hearing some talk about the shortage, managers at Anchor Bar, which claims to have invented the original Buffalo wings, aren’t worried.

“We haven’t encountered but have heard about it,” Mike Mulé, general manager and one of the owners at Anchor Bar in Amherst, New York told Insider.

Anchor Bar. AP Photo/Don Heupel, File

At Duff’s, the other wing restaurant that claims to be the origin of Buffalo wings, they “don’t know anything about it, and we’re not short” on wings, a manager told Insider. “We have plenty of wings.”

During the current shortage, prices won’t necessarily go up for consumers, but restaurants are likely to be less generous with specials and promotions, experts told The Post. While restaurants mostly saw this coming and were able to prepare for it, the increasing cost of wings will hurt margins in an already tight industry, president and COO of Gregg Nettleton of Fat Brands told Restaurant Business Online.

While the supply is lower than in the past, it’s also important to remember that stories about wing shortages circulate in the month leading up to the Super Bowl nearly every year. Google Trend data shows that searches for “chicken wing shortage” are highest in January and February, shooting up some years. Managers at the wing restaurants noticed the same trend.

It “spikes every year,” the manager at Duff’s told Insider.

Still, Mulé said doesn’t anticipate any issues this February 6.

“We’re good at what we do,” he said.

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