Another shortage? Chicken wings are in short supply for restaurants

First toilet paper couldn’t be found. Neither could bleach wipes or video game systems. Then restaurants couldn’t get enough ketchup packets to meet demand.

The latest shortage could make your weekly wing night look a bit different.

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Restaurants across the country are reporting a shortage of chicken wings — specifically bone-in varieties.

“The industry is experiencing some supply challenges, Sara Matheu, a spokesperson for US Foods, told The Associated Press. “Meat processors are having a hard time keeping up with increased demand due to a variety of challenges.”

When they can’t get the traditional bone-in wing, some restaurants, like J&K Style Grill in Norfolk, Virginia, could start serving boneless chicken, marketed as “boneless wings” that are made of breast meat, the AP reported.

Kelvin Dooley, the owner of the restaurant, told the AP he’s been able to make up the difference by going through another business, which is limiting how many cases are allowed to be purchased.

Another option is swapping out fresh wings with frozen products.

Restaurants that depend on wings in Texas and Ohio said they’re seeing the same supply issues.

The price of wings can be a roller coaster through the year, hitting high prices around the Super Bowl, but market analysts said the prices didn’t fall like they normally do after the big game, supplies are not there to keep up with demand.

“If you think about it, restaurants like wing joints and pizza places were built around takeout and delivery so they didn’t have to change their business model that much during the pandemic,” Tom Super, of the National Chicken Council, told the AP. “Wings travel well and hold up during delivery conditions. Plus, they align with consumer desire for comfort food during the pandemic.”

Super, however, said he wouldn’t call it a shortage yet, but said supplies are “tight.”

“Chicken producers are doing everything they can to overcome the devastating impact of Mother Nature when she inflicted the once-in-a-lifetime winter storm on Texas and nearby states — major chicken producing regions. It will take time and effort to eventually replace the impacted hatchery supply flocks in the region,” Short told the AP.

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