By the time the fourth or fifth Super Bowl commercial rolls around, most families will agree they’ve seen enough breasts and thighs. And it’s only going to be worse this year, thanks to the high demand for wings, according to The National Chicken Council.
Wholesale chicken wing prices have risen 14 percent from last year to $2.11 a pound, the highest price ever recorded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the council’s 2012 wing report.
While the price uptick does damage to the party budget, it won’t keep many hosts from serving their favorite football snack. More than 1.23 billion wing portions are expected to be consumed during Super Bowl weekend. But wing consumption during the big game is expected to be down about one percent, or 12.3 million wings, compared to last year’s numbers, the National Chicken Council said on Jan. 22.
But not for lack of demand, says Bill Roenigk, chief economist and market analyst for the National Chicken Council. Quite the opposite, actually.
“Chicken companies produced about one percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices,” Roenigk said. “Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons: last summer’s drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol. Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced.”
Wing prices always tend to spike around the fourth quarter of the year as restaurants stock up for the big game, with prices peaking in the days before the Super Bowl. But this year, many analysts expect wing demand to hold steady even after the winning team takes home the Lombardi trophy.
“Demand for wings is proving more and more to be inelastic,” Roenigk said. “With the rising number of restaurants with menus dedicated to wings, the return of the NHL hockey season, the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament and then the start of grilling season, wing demand should remain hot.”
So for those who’ve already stocked up on Ranch dressing and want their fowl in the fryer despite the 14-cent price hike—not to worry. Wings are still available, at least for now, Roenigk said: “I wouldn’t advise being in line at the supermarket two hours before kickoff.”