Why The Low Price Of Chicken Wings Is Unlikely To Last

Food inflation might still be on an upswing, but at least chicken wing fans currently have something to celebrate. The Department of Agriculture says the price of the popular food item remains at a low, which it has been sitting since July and, at $1.68 per pound, the item is the cheapest it has been since 2018, per News on 6.

That the price of wings was on a decline was no surprise for poultry executives like Pilgrim's Pride CEO Fabio Sandri, who indicated during his most recent earnings call that demand for wings had dropped since the end of the pandemic. Sandri pointed out that "the weakest part of the bird has been the wings, which is very interesting because last year wings were really the highlight of the cut out for chicken," per Seeking Alpha.

The sentiment was echoed by Wingstop's president and CEO Michael Skipworth, who told CNBC that his company's business model had benefitted as a result. "Wingstop is in a very different position in that we've seen meaningful deflation in our business," he said. "The price of wings last year hit $3.22 a pound, and we fast forward to today, and it's $1.63 a pound."

Chicken wing prices could rise soon

There was a reason for this. As Pilgrim's Pride's Fabio Sandri explained, "During the pandemic, what we saw was the wings as a great appetizer that all the pizza parlors and all the other QSRs [quick service restaurants] were adapting. And as the price of wings reach more than $3 per pound last year, we see some of them being taken out of the menu," per Seeking Alpha. In their place, fast food spots and bars took to serving "boneless wings," which were chicken breasts seasoned and cooked in the style of chicken wings. Then there was diminished demand, thanks to the end of the regular basketball and football seasons.

But with the NFL heading toward the start of the regular season, which kicks off on September 8, food industry executives say they aren't seeing chicken wing prices stay depressed for too much longer, per NBC News. Sandri warns that the industry "expects also the wings to start rising now coming the football and the basketball season. So wings are very competitive right now compared to the breast meat."

Given the expectation for increased demand, wholesale chicken wing prices aren't expected to stay down for too much longer.