The Chicken Wing Shortage of 2021

You may have noticed by now that chicken wings are a hot commodity recently.  Whether you've been unable to order a plate from your local restaurant or the prices per wing seem to have jumped – you've noticed: somethings up. 

Chicken wing prices have been rising in America for restaurants and suppliers for a number of reasons, the customer might not see the price increase but surely feel the absence of their favorite chicken wings. Yes the COVID-19 pandemic is a factor, but believe it or not that's not the only reason.

The price of chicken rose in 2020 quite rapidly, by about 10% over the year. This is atypical for the industry. So what's up? Two things: the pandemic and a harsh winter.

The Pandemic's Effect

Ask just about anyone and they'll be able to point to a place in their industry or life where the pandemic has thrown things out of whack. Production on certain things have slowed to a crawl, others are meeting delay after delay as shipping continues to suffer from the widespread effects.

There was also an increased demand for chicken wings during the pandemic! More restaurants began to offer chicken wings on to go menus for delivery to help themselves stay afloat. Wings travel well making them a smart addition to the menu. So then the pandemic effect was two fold: increased demand and problems in supply chains.

Harsh Winters

The most recent winter was an incredibly harsh one. People will recall the blackouts and freezing in Texas amongst other places. These intense winters had a serious impact on all farming, including the chicken farms that produce the wings for restaurants everywhere.

So with those two factors making demand rise, and supply go low you can imagine what happens next.

Supply and Demand Meet the Realities of Business

Supply decreases, the demand rises, and so with it the price of buying these wings in the first place. That leaves a couple options for restaurants who want to keep serving these wings to their customers. They could either raise the cost of the wing, or continue selling them at the same price but at a loss. For mom and pop and local restaurants that's difficult to manage. Meanwhile the huge franchises are used to operating with some loss leaders, taking a hit on certain items to keep business flowing through the door. So those places are still peddling wings at their normal rates, leaving customers scratching their heads about their locala mom and pop shops.

It's a bad look.

But thankfully, the end IS in sight! 

As the pandemic restrictions are changing, more restaurants are able to operate as they used to and we've made it through almost an entire year since the harsh winter, chicken wings should be back in supply as usual.

If you've been unable to order your favorite wings from your local spot, hang on just a little bit longer! Things should smooth out soon.