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Chicken wing prices take flight

Wings will hit their highest demand of the year on Super Bowl Sunday -- and their highest price on record.

By Karen Datko Jan 24, 2013 6:08PM

Men watching television, holding beers © Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy, Cultura, Getty ImagesAmericans will eat 12.3 million fewer chicken wings this Super Bowl Sunday than they did last year -- not because wings are less popular, but because there are fewer of them.


A 1% drop in production means wings have hit a record high price -- wholesaling for $2.11 a pound, 26 cents more than a year ago, according to the National Chicken Council.


Still, Americans will eat more than a billion wings over Super Bowl weekend. "To put that into perspective, if 1.23 billion wing segments were laid end to end, they would stretch from Candlestick Park in San Francisco to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore . . . 27 times," the National Chicken Council says.


When we say "wings," we're actually referring to wing portions, since each chicken wing is separated at the bone, and that skinny third part is exported to countries that value it.


Attributing the shortage of wings to high-priced feed caused by drought and other factors, the National Chicken Council, not without a sense of humor, adds:

"A chicken has two wings, and chicken companies are not able to produce wings without the rest of the chicken. Therefore, the supply of wings is limited by the total number of chickens produced. When the demand for wings is stronger than the demand for other chicken parts, the price of wings will go up, as it has this past year.


"The wholesale price of wings will be the most expensive ever during Super Bowl XLVII as demand rises and the supply has shrunk. Wings are also currently the highest-priced part of the chicken."

This means you'll still be able to purchase wings, but you'll likely have to pay more for them. How much more? It depends. According to NerdWallet, frozen party chicken wings averaged $2.52 a pound at major grocery stores in the week of Jan. 4-10, up from $1.97 a year ago.


Restaurant chains may have locked in a low price or decided to eat the higher cost and not pass it along to customers.

How did the wing become king of so many Super Bowl parties? The council notes that while Southerners were deep-frying chicken wings for many years, Teressa Bellissimo first cooked them with hot sauce for her son at the Anchor Bar in -- where else? -- Buffalo, N.Y., in 1964. 


In the 1980s, the council says, Americans started flocking to sports bars to watch football and, coincidentally, began to prefer boneless chicken breast over cooking the entire bird, and "wings became an inexpensive byproduct for chicken producers."


The rest is a tribute to American ingenuity: "Restaurants and bars realized they could charge low prices for the relatively inexpensive protein, and due to the spicy/salty nature of the sauce, they discovered that beer sales would go through the roof when customers ate wings."


Wings became so popular that their wholesale price exceeded that of chicken breasts in 2009. Thus, chicken breast meat carved up and sold as "boneless" wings is actually saving restaurants money.


Speaking of the Super Bowl, here are a few other tidbits we've come across:


Only in the Northeast do adults prefer bleu cheese dressing with chicken wings. The rest of the nation favors ranch, according to Chicken Council polling. (And to those who say wings are overrated, I reply, "I'll eat your share.") did an online survey about the types of Super Bowl party guests no one wants to be around. Among those mentioned:

  • 52% dislike the "know-it-all" guest -- the self-proclaimed expert on football, commercials, food and everything else.
  • 41% mentioned the "remote dominator." No explanation needed here.
  • 38% don't like the "social butterfly" who comes to talk and not watch the game.
  • Only 13% are bothered by the person who watches only the commercials (and apparently doesn't talk nonstop).

The survey also found that 37% admitted to having bet on the Super Bowl in the past.


More from MSN Money:


Jan 24, 2013 7:41PM
and to think chicken wings used to be super cheap till they realized people liked eating them
Jan 24, 2013 6:57PM
Obviously we need to bioengineer a 6 winged chicken.
Jan 24, 2013 8:11PM
Same ole story....want higher prices....create a shortage.
Jan 24, 2013 11:53PM
Easy.  Stop buying wings for a while.  When they throw enough wings away due to lack of demand, I'll bet the price comes down.
Jan 24, 2013 8:35PM
what a bunch of crap.   Jack up the prices of the wings for super bowl Sunday....who sits around and thinks of this stuff????  When I was Dad bought a package of 6 wings.....are you ready.....for under a buck!!!  There is no friggin meat on the wings....EAT CHICKEN LEGS PEOPLE!!!

Jan 24, 2013 9:15PM
Amazing.  Make the junkiest part of a cheap meat sought-after and overpriced.  Brilliant, chicken scumbags!
Jan 24, 2013 10:58PM
in the trade this is known as price gouging.  rm, bsba;  mba!
Jan 24, 2013 9:11PM
Anytime the majority of the poulation likes something, they raise the prices- whats new? Aint gonna stop my party or even slow it down a little. 5 dozen wings over here hahaha....
Jan 25, 2013 10:16AM

Perhaps a boycott will teach them something about trying to screw the consumer!

Jan 25, 2013 12:00PM
Why bother with chicken wings anyway.  I use chicken tenders instead of wings and I think they are better.  More meat and more flavor and you don't need  as many to get full.
Jan 25, 2013 8:12PM
I'm the buyer for poultry items for a large wholesale distributor.  Most of the comments on this board are incorrect.  There are a few major factors contributing to the price of Wings:

1)  Demand has risen substantially, and as the article mentions, you only get two wings per bird. Poultry suppliers cannot spend the money to grow birds only for  two wings.  You have to understand that if they do this, they create a large overstock of chicken breasts and thigh meat, which they then must sell at or below input costs.  If they do this, they screw themselves and will put themselves out of business.  This is a basic supply and demand economics equation.

2)  The government mandated a certain percentage of the entire corn crop in this country to go to fuel.  This has  caused  the price per bushel of corn to more than double.  Corn is one of the main feed inputs to grow chickens, beef, pork, etc.  When your raw material input such as corn more than doubles, it puts a huge strain on margins..

3)  In order to combat the overstock of thigh meat and breasts, egg sets, meaning the number of eggs that are hatched each month, have decreased 2% / month for about a year, thus is the reason for the as mentioned decrease in wing supply.

Also, many chicken growers have gone out of business due to the higher input and regulation costs over the last few years.  One major chicken supplier whom I will not mention, lost $500 Million in 2011 alone.  

This is not an issue of price gouging.  This is an issue of the demand outstripping supply, government  interference in the corn market, and ever increasing business costs.

Every consumer has a choice.  1)  You can choose to stop eating so many wings which will eventually lower the price as demand equals the supply of wings equal to the supply of breast meat.  2)  Pay the higher price and enjoy your wings.  3)  Get involved with the government and ask them to stop using food for fuel which will instantly lower the cost of corn. Or 4) Try opening your own chicken farm and see how well you fair.

Until then, enjoy your wings and super bowl.

Jan 24, 2013 11:13PM
I likes my chicken, all of it.  I find a cut up fryer on sale and then cook it myself.  I usually do a shake-n-bake recipe using rice crispies.  I tried a friend's idea by using all bran and that didn't fly with me.  As for the wings, I'm just fine with the other pieces.  I was at a wing place not too long ago and they had a special on legs for $1 each.  I got more filled up on them than the wings.
Jan 25, 2013 1:26PM
Why would an article that begins with the price of chicken wings rising end with what kind of Super Bowl guest are you - way to uphold your journalistic integrity, author.
Jan 25, 2013 10:13AM
Glad I bought 4 bags last week. No shortage here.

we are slowly becomming a third world and wait I five it  49 tears and a bowl of rice will cost 40 dollars...the Republicans won! and loss!


Get back our infustrusture

Jan 24, 2013 7:50PM
Obviously the price of chicken wings is not under the free market enterprise supply and demand mechanism, but is now under the thumb of manipulators, thanks to Obama.  The only way to combat these scumbags is to boycott wings, replace them with escargot and Perrier at your superbowl party. Truffles and Brussel sprouts will make a nice side dish.
Jan 24, 2013 7:33PM
i plan on hitting the like button for my post.
Jan 25, 2013 10:32AM
hell the whitehouse what caused the shortage, go figure.
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