Americans are stubborn. They want what they want – when they want it. In some respects, this is a bad thing, however, it also means customer loyalty. Much like bacon or baseball, wings have become engrained in our culture. Ever since Teressa Belissimo of Buffalo, NY decided to toss her scraps destined for stock in the deep fryer; bars and ballgames have been changed forever. As a popular snack and bar food, the chicken wing took off, being adapted by mega-chains such as Hooters and Buffalo Wild Wings as a jumping off point for their food concepts.
With this much history, the chicken wing has risen to the level of the hamburger. In America, if the cost of beef rose tenfold, there would still be the stubborn citizen shelling out $20 for a low end patty. Wade Winters, vice president of supply chain at Consolidated Concepts, noted that restaurants looking to go a different direction for wings, such as boneless wings, are finding it to be a challenge. “The true wing lover is never going to want to switch, they’ll probably agree to pay more.”
This past August, Mizuho Restaurant and Proteins Analyst Jeremy Scott did some further digging into the rise in wing prices. He found that, “Wing prices appear to be off the charts, but historical context points to a shift in the demand curve and implies that current levels aren’t necessarily extraordinary, but rather within the range of a new normal.” Food prices always rise, and it only makes sense that something as small and limited as a chicken wing would experience cost fluctuation if the demand was high enough. Understanding that the chicken wing may have to be re-purposed as a higher end food is key to beating the price surge. Instead of getting rid of wings altogether, by pricing them higher you can create better profit margins. By offering alternatives (such as boneless wings), at a lower price-point, you can truly see if our stubborn society is willing to shell out the cash for those juicy, bone-in pinions.