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The Cruel Economics Of The Chicken Wing

It turns out that "the cruel economics of the chicken wing" is creating a problem for sports bars and resturant chains. What's the problem?

  • The size of American chickens and their wings are "relenlessly rising"
  • Though five current wings yield more ounces of meat than six wings used to, resturants are reluctant to serve less wings in a package-deal due to customer expectations
  • The average chicken carcass is now 50% bigger than it was 30 years ago...but still has only 2 wings
  • Wholesale wing prices soared 76% in 2012 over 2011, hitting 20-year highs
  • It now takes 42 days to grow a 5-pound chicken, compared with needing 60 days 30 years ago
  • Chickens are sold in three types: small (4 lbs) to chains such as KFC and Popeyes, medium (6 lbs) to supermarkets, and superbirds (8 lbs) to distributors in the south
  • "Basic chicken math" to explain "wing dilemma": A supermarket tray pack of 4 breasts requires 2 chickens, but a pack of 18 wings requires 9 chickens
Lots of data...and you can pose your own questions....as I need to go get some chicken wings before the price increases or size decreases!

Source: M. Hughlett, "Big Chickens Tough on Wing Lovers," Mpls. Star Tribune, March 30, 2013