Chicken wings to dominate Super Bowl weekend

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – It's the most wonderful time of the year — for chicken wings. The National Chicken Council's (NCC) 2012 Wing Report estimates football fans will consume more than 1.25 billion wing portions during Super Bowl weekend, totaling more than 100 million pounds of wings.

Bill Roenigk, NCC senior vice president and chief economist, said chicken wings will be consumed by three times the number of Americans on Super Bowl Sunday than a typical Sunday throughout the year. About half will be ordered from restaurants and the remainder from retail grocery stores, he said.

“Foodservice and retail grocery stores should really be commended for helping chicken companies take a small part of the chicken and make it such a big part of Super Bowl Sunday,” Roenigk said. “Whether the wings are mildly-spiced, medium-spiced or super-hot, restaurants and grocery stores have made wings a bigger part of menus throughout the year.”

Restaurants selling chicken wings are hot spots for Bowl-watch parties. Wingstop expects to sauce and serve 5.6 million wings on Super Bowl Sunday, an increase of 12 percent compared to 2011. Wing sales for the chain are 290 percent over the average Sunday. Atlanta-based Wing Zone expects to sell nearly one million wings, and will introduce two new spice rubs to take advantage of the higher than usual traffic volume.

As demand for wings increases, so too will prices, according to NCC. Wing prices experience a cyclical increase in the fourth quarter of the year as restaurants stock up for the Super Bowl. Prices usually peak in January during the run-up to the game.

In the Midwest, for instance which includes Indianapolis where the game will be played, the price of wings (whole) for the week of Jan. 16-20, 2012 was $1.96/lb wholesale, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Poultry Market News Service. This represents a 50 percent increase in price from six months ago in July 2011.

Other chicken parts will be served during the big game. "Other chicken dishes are seven times more popular than wings on Super Bowl Sunday,” said Harry Balzer, chief food and beverage industry analyst and vice president of The NPD Group. “Chicken is a very popular dish overall on that day… and it’s not just wings.”

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