For the past couple of years, if you've read a headline that features the name of your favorite food, it's usually been bad news involving either a product shortage, a price increase, or both. But unclench your jaw and stop grinding your molars because this time, the news is good — especially if you love chicken wings.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report cited by Axios, the wholesale price for a pound of chicken wings fell to $1.68 in July, and that number could be even lower in August. That's a chicken wing price point that we haven't seen since 2018. (By comparison, prices hit a high of $3.25 per pound in May 2021, and were averaging $2.68 per pound in January 2022.)
So what gives? It's basically just supply and demand. In a recent earnings call, Fabio Sandri, the CEO of Pilgrim's Pride, said that as the prices of chicken wings increased during the pandemic, many restaurants pulled them off the menu or subbed in other cuts of poultry. Last summer, the Wingstop chain started offering both bone-in and boneless chicken thighs — and even temporarily referred to itself as Thighstop on DoorDash.
"So with that, we saw a very fast decline in the price of wings to the prices that we have today," Sandri explained. Those substitutions both dropped the prices of wings, and allowed the wing supply to catch up — but it also resulted in price hikes for chicken breasts, tenders, and legs.
According to CNBC, chicken breast inventories have fallen by 7% year over year, while dark meat inventories are 15% below the five-year average. The USDA has also upped its wholesale price estimates for poultry, suggesting that prices will increase by 26-29% this year instead of 20-23%.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sandri said that the lower prices for chicken wings aren't expected to last. The NFL and college football seasons both kick off in the next few weeks, the NBA returns in October, and college basketball is back in November, which means that mid-game wings will be in demand at bars and restaurants again.
At this point, we'll take our wins — and our wings — when we can get them, so let's all just enjoy this price dip while it lasts.