Chicken wings prices have shot up 99% because farms can’t get enough workers, a Buffalo, New York, restaurant owner said

Roasted chicken wings
Chicken wing prices are up 99%, Greg Duell told Fox Business. Sellwell/Getty Images
  • Chicken wing suppliers have nearly doubled their prices, the owner of a Duff’s Famous Wings in Buffalo, New York, told Fox.
  • This is because chicken farms are struggling to find workers during the US labor shortage, he said.
  • Fryer oil has also shot up more than 120% so far this year, Greg Duell said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Chicken wings are getting much more expensive because farms are struggling to hire staff during a national labor shortage, a Buffalo, New York, restaurant owner told Fox Business Monday.

“The chicken wing farms in America, they’re having trouble retaining and recruiting employees,” Greg Duell, the co-owner of a Duff’s Famous Wings restaurant in Buffalo, New York, told Neil Cavuto.

“When that happens, they can’t process the birds fast enough, they have to feed them more, the feed costs have gone up, the birds are getting bigger and they can’t process and get them out,” he said.

Wing prices from his supplier were up 99%, he said. “They just can’t keep up,” he added.

Duell owns one of Duff’s nine branches.

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The labor shortage is hitting industries from hospitality to ride-hailing apps. Meanwhile, demand for dining out is surging as the US economy reopens – leaving restaurants scrambling to keep up.

As well as the labor shortage, soaring demand and the unprecedented winter storms in Texas have caused chicken prices to skyrocket.

The CEO of Ohio-based wing chain Roosters told the Dayton Daily News that the prices of chicken wings are at “the highest they have ever been in the 33 years I’ve been doing this.”

A restaurant owner in Virginia told WIVB in April that the cost of chicken drums had tripled since last year.

Costco also said that it was getting harder to keep its rotisserie chicken at $4.99.

It’s not just chicken that’s getting more expensive: Duell said that the cost of fryer oil had increased more than 120% so far this year, while the owner of a BBQ restaurant in New Hampshire said that the cost of St. Louis Ribs was up 50%.

Restaurants have also been directly hit by the huge labor shortage, which the US Chamber of Commerce called a “national economic emergency.” Around two-thirds of small restaurants say they can’t find enough staff, and half said it meant they were struggling to pay rent.

Insider’s Ayelet Sheffey reported that the labor shortage could be down to a mix of unemployment benefits, COVID-19 health concerns, caring responsibilities, and low wages.

Duell called the $300 supplemental unemployment benefits a “humongous problem” and said it was “definitely” causing the labor shortage in the hospitality industry.

He told Fox Business that he had raised wages to retain workers.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t possibly keep up with an additional $300 on top of an unemployment benefit,” he said. “The menu prices would be skyrocketing more than they already are.”

Some companies are passing the higher costs of labor and ingredients onto customers with “careful” price increases, Kevin Burke, managing director and member of the consumer team at Citizens Capital Markets, told Insider. Chipotle has already raised its prices by around 4%.

Restaurants have been offering lucrative perks to lure in new hires, including free iPhones and even a $50 payment to people who show up for an interview.

The Federal Reserve said the staffing squeeze could last months but Bank of America expects the job market to recover by early 2022.