Super Bowl chicken wings getting pricier, less plentiful

Chicken wings: Still popular, but now more expensive and in shorter supply.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Americans are going to chow down on 1.23 billion chicken wings during Super Bowl weekend this year. But there will be fewer wings available and they’ll cost more, according to an annual report.

The NFL championship game, this year between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, is the biggest day of the year for chicken wings, according to the National Chicken Council.

This time around, however, there will be 12.3 million fewer wings eaten than last year, or a 1% decline, according to the trade group.


The group attributed the slide to fewer chickens in 2012, as corn and animal feed prices soared to record highs amid a severe summer drought and ethanol fuel production regulations.

And with shrinking supply and strong demand, the chicken council said wholesale wings will be at their “most expensive ever.” Wings are currently the highest priced portion of a chicken and cost $2.11 a pound in the Northeast, up 12% from a year earlier.

So are we headed for a hot wings equivalent of the bacon shortage predicted last year? Not to worry, said Bill Roenigk, chief economist for the chicken trade group.

“The good news for consumers is that restaurants plan well in advance to ensure they have plenty of wings for the big game,” he said. “And some restaurants are promoting boneless wings and some are offering flexible serving sizes.”

One caveat, however.

“If you’re planning to cook your own wings, I wouldn’t advise being in line at the supermarket two hours before kickoff,” Roenigk said.


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