Chicken prices on the rise; pandemic partly to blame

Coronavirus

The pandemic continues to lead to shortages. The latest is tightening the supplies of a favorite comfort food: Chicken.

My Mama’s Kitchen in Norfolk, Virginia sells a variety of dishes, but chicken wings soar above the rest. “Wings are my top-selling item, no question. No question about it,” says owner Moe Stevenson. He says he’s paying more for wings, and drumstick prices have tripled since last year. “I thought it would like drop off after Super Bowl, like it usually does, March Madness is done, ok, boom. No, it’s actually going up.” My Mama’s Kitchen was forced to raise menu prices because of higher costs, but that isn’t stopping customers from buying the popular wings.

It’s a nationwide issue. Duff’s Famous Wings in Buffalo, NY can’t always get what they need. Manager Jeff Feather says, “We’re getting about two-thirds of what we typically would order. There are some days our food reps will call us and say, ‘we might not be able to get you anything.'”

Part of the reason is the winter freeze that hit Texas and surrounding states in February. Some chicken plants in the region closed temporarily, causing a supply disruption. At the same time, wings and other chicken products are in high demand as Americans turn to comfort food during the pandemic.

McDonald’s and KFC are seeing a boost in sales from their new fried chicken sandwiches as they compete with Popeyes popular sandwich. Those fast food giants haven’t reported any supply issues, but last week Bojangles tweeted a temporary shortage of chicken tenders at hundreds of its restaurants.

The National Chicken Council says production is now on the rise and supplies should soon catch up to demand.

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