Super Bowl revelry threatened by chicken wing shortage


A chicken wing shortage is being reported, though it’s nothing to panic about. Photo Credit: Andrew Nash/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

It isn’t exactly time to panic, but it is time to be aware if one plans to have chicken wings on the menu for the Super Bowl. A chicken wing shortage is being reported, as this year’s drought has depleted feed stock and the number of chickens available for use as wings.

Drought produces chicken wing shortage at worst possible time

This past summer’s drought was a disaster. The hottest, driest summer on record decimated the agricultural heartland, affecting nearly every state in the union and making life hard on the farmers, who already have a less than idyllic life anyway.

Worse than that trivial nonsense, we’re running low on chicken wings and the Super Bowl is coming up.

The drought, according to the Christian Science Monitor, was particularly lethal for corn production. It doesn’t mean fewer ears will be enjoyed on the cob. Most corn that’s grown is barely edible, basically suitable for ethanol production and feed for livestock. Chicken producers have noted fewer procurable birds, ergo fewer wings. Don’t panic, because it isn’t a drastic chicken wing shortage.

Fowl deeds

There is a huge demand. It’s estimated that 1.23 billion wings will go down gullets during the game, tentatively being referred to as the “Har-bowl,” given that the two teams involved, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, are coached by John and Jim Harbaugh, respectively, the first Super Bowl to pit brothers against each other.

Corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, as a federal mandate demanded 40 percent of corn be sold for use in producing ethanol for fuel and corn harvests were decimated by drought. Chicken prices, therefore, depend on corn prices, which the National Chicken Council – apparently there is one – make up about 67 percent of the price of the bird.

The result of the feed prices has been a terrifying, seemingly insurmountable decline in chicken production of 1 percent. In other words, a moderate reduction in stocks, meaning they will probably cost a bit more. It’s not like a plate of wings will require short term loans to fund.

Wing and a prayer

According to the Baltimore Sun, restaurants are likely to have stocked up well in advance, as they usually do before Super Bowl Sunday. The biggest price increase noted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the Christian Science Monitor, is 22 cents in the Northeast.

The national average, according to the Huffington Post, was noted by Nerdwallet at $2.52 in the first week of Jan. 2013, compared to $1.97 in Jan. 2012. The biggest price increase is likely to be in wholesales, as the wholesale price of wings, the most expensive cut, was up 26 percent in December 2012.

So the chicken wing shortage is more of a slight price creep. If anything, it’s interesting just because it revealed a National Chicken Council exists.


Christian Science Monitor

Baltimore Sun

Huffington Post

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