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Chicken wing shortage is latest pandemic-related setback

Apr 24, 2021, 8:32 PM | Updated: 8:47 pm
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At least one wing restaurant has reached out to customers asking for patience as Americans endure another pandemic-related shortage. (Photo: Canva)
(Photo: Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY — First it was toilet paper. Then Dr. Pepper, coins, mountain bikes and RVs. Now, chicken wings are the latest commodity to run scarce because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

It started with the Super Bowl in 2021. That’s when, according to Restaurant Business Online, those who need chicken wings (think Wing Stop) were having a hard time getting enough of them.

And the chicken wing shortage hasn’t gotten better since then.  Newsweek reports that a wing joint in Texas is reaching out to their customers and community asking for their understanding during the shortage.

Today the chicken business is dealing with the sharp side of the dual-edged sword called demand. Americans ate 1.42 billion wings while watching the Super Bowl in February. And in the whole of 2020, people eating chicken wings in restaurants increased by 7 percent (as compared to 2019.)

And yes, this is despite the restaurant closures in 2020 that were also connected to the pandemic.

Why the chicken wing demand?

First of all, it’s comfort food. It makes us feel nostalgic.

And, it’s no stranger to food delivery. According to MarketWatch, the DoorDash, Uber, GrubHub and Postmates delivery apps had combined earnings of more than $5 billion in 2020 which doubled their combined revenues in 2019.

According to DoorDash and GrubHub, 30% of the people that use their apps want chicken. Chinese food, pizza, burgers and sushi round out the top five requested types of delivery food.

So what’s a wings-lover to do?

Learn to like cauliflower and other meatless chicken products that are shaped like wings. That’s one of the suggestions made by Modern Restaurant Management when Newsweek asked. Or go for the chicken tenders or a chicken sandwich. 

And have faith. Toilet paper came back, didn’t it?

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Chicken wing shortage is latest pandemic-related setback