We’ve done plenty of stories on the border crisis, the gun rights crisis, the free speech crisis, and all the rest. So let’s turn our attention to a crisis of a different kind that’s currently plaguing the United States. That’s right, my fellow Americans, we’re facing a chicken wing crisis. Owners of bars and restaurants around the nation are noticing that chicken wings are suddenly in short supply. Orders are going unfilled and, at least in some cases, prices for the popular dinner item are rising. What’s causing the sudden shortage? Well, according to some economists who have been looking into the matter… it’s complicated. (KCRA News)
“We go through 24 cases of wings a week. Right now I’m getting shorted eight cases,” [Kelvin Dooley, owner of Virginia Beach restaurant, J & K Style Grill] said. “I haven’t run out because I can go to the Restaurant Depot and make up the difference. But they’re limiting the amount you can buy. It’s three cases here, two cases here. We’re having to scramble.”
“The industry is experiencing some supply challenges,” confirmed Sara Matheu, spokeswoman for Chicago-based US Foods, a supplier for restaurants nationwide including J & K. “Meat processors are having a hard time keeping up with increased demand due to a variety of challenges.”
Restaurants all over the country, from the Wing Barn in Texas to Chef Rich’s Kitchen in Ohio, are reporting the same. The wings have flown the coop.
Mr. Dooley is contemplating what he describes as being previously “unthinkable.” He may be forced to switch to boneless, fake “wings” that are made from breast meat. Hot wings make up 40% of his food business. He hasn’t raised his prices yet, but at this point he’s only breaking even on the wings, so it’s really slamming his business.
So where have all the wings gone? As it turns out, representatives of poultry industry organizations say that the current supplies of chicken are pretty much typical of an average year. Normally prices spike a bit after the Super Bowl (one of the biggest volume days for chicken wing sales) and then drop back down afterward. But that’s not happening this year and the reason, as with everything else that’s awful in the country right now, is the pandemic. Far more people are ordering take-out and delivery food while staying home in states where bars and restaurants are either still shut down or operating on limited hours.
Chicken wings are one of the most popular take-out items on the menu, so while supplies have remained about the same, demand is far higher. Unfortunately, the poultry farms can’t simply ramp up their output at a moment’s notice. It takes a year to raise chickens to the appropriate age and size for sending them to market. And since nobody knows when all the lockdowns will fully end, farmers can’t afford to massively increase the number of birds they are raising and then have the bottom drop out of the market. So this really is a simple supply and demand issue. As demand rises and supply can’t match it, prices increase and shortages happen.
So I can already hear some of you asking… why is this the Joe Biden chicken wing crisis? Because the unexpected demand curve first took hold in February after the Super Bowl. Biden had already been sworn into office by then so it’s happening on his watch. That makes it his fault. That’s how the game is played these days, isn’t it? The pandemic struck on Donald Trump’s watch, so everything that took place last year was his fault. Now it’s Joe Biden’s turn in the barrel. Let’s get to work, Uncle Joe. The people are crying out in the wilderness for their chicken wings and it’s your job to make things right.