Richard L. Lobb
About 1.25 billion chicken wing portions – more than 100 million pounds of chicken wings — will be consumed by enthusiastic football fans and chicken lovers on the weekend of professional football’s championship game, making it the biggest time of the year for chicken wings, according to the National Chicken Council.
“The Super Bowl just wouldn’t be super without chicken wings,” said Bill Roenigk, NCC senior vice president and chief economist. “Whether you call them Buffalo wings, hotwings, party wings, or wing things, chicken wings have gained enormously in popularity in recent years. They are among the most popular offerings when friends and family get together at home or patronize quick-service carryouts, sports bars, casual dining restaurants, or other establishments that serve tasty, fun foods.”
While Super Bowl weekend is undoubtedly the peak weekend for chicken wings consumption, they are popular throughout the year. Roenigk said he estimates that, in the year 2011, more than 13.5 billion chicken wings (over 3 billion pounds) will be marketed as wings (as opposed to the wings left on whole chicken or breast quarters). Of these, about 9.5 billion wings (2.2 billion pounds) will be sold through foodservice channels – restaurants of all types. Another 4 billion wings (800 million pounds) will be sold in retail grocery stores.
Production of chicken has been running slightly ahead of the levels seen a year ago as the industry and its customers in the foodservice business pull out of the economic slump, Roenigk said. Wholesale prices for wings have been relatively stable for several months, according to price quotes kept by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, without the run-up in wholesale prices often seen late in previous years as major customers stocked up to meet Super Bowl demand. Retail prices for cooked wings in grocery stores were most recently reported at a nationwide average of about $5 per pound by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
“Price-conscious shoppers can also buy fresh wings and use some of the great recipes from www.eatchicken.com,” Roenigk noted. The USDA recently quoted fresh, whole wings at an average retail price of around $2 per pound. Individually quick-frozen wings are available at about the same price, according to USDA. The recipes on www.eatchicken.com are, of course, free.
The National Chicken Council represents vertically integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.