Chicken Wings Are The Latest COVID-Related Shortage
No doubt the COVID-19 Pandemic has affected us in ways we have never experienced before and could have never predicted. From masking and social distancing to food and product shortages in the store, the saying "we live in interesting times" has never been more accurate. Early on during the pandemic, customers encountered a variety of shortages on store shelves - everything from toilet paper to cereal, canned soup to ketchup. Well - it looks like we can add another item to that list.
Food industry officials are reporting that there is currently a shortage of chicken wings. The problem is two-fold: At the same time that the supply chain was affected by massive shutdowns and health concerns, demand for the product grew in a big way. With customers stuck at home and unable to visit their favorite restaurants, many turned to ordering curbside, take-out, or delivery items from the menu. Some food items don't translate to those delivery methods well - but chicken wings do. The popular appetizer (or meal) has always been a to-go favorite - and the pandemic shutdowns and stay-at-home orders only increased the demand.
According to an article in Restaurant Business Online, the industry went into the pandemic with enough supply to meet normal demand. That quickly changed. One commodities and data analyst offered that the shortage is the worst the industry has seen in years: "It's the lowest wing stocks we've seen since 2011".
It doesn't take an economic-expert to calculate what that means for the average consumer:
"This week, the average price for a pound of chicken wings was $2.65 - up ten cents from the week before. The year began with wings at $2.27 per pound. Last year at this time, wings were available for $1.81 a pound on average."
The current price represents an increase of almost a dollar per pound - for a product that has always had retail prices tied pretty close to wholesale. And, food industry analysts don't expect the problem to rectify any time soon.
So what can be done about the problem? Two innovative solutions have seen the light of day. One of those alternatives to traditional chicken wings are a variety of plant-based products - designed to mimic the look and taste of the chicken wing. Another is the gradual shift towards the "whole bird strategy" - including the use of bone-in chicken thighs.