Chicken Wing Spike Before Super Bowl

In the Northeast, chicken wing prices top out at $2.11 a pound, up 12 percent from 2012.

Football fans now have to watch their wallets and their waistlines before getting their eat on for Super Bowl Sunday.

This year, chicken wings may cost you more after a U.S. Department of Agriculture announcement that said chicken prices were up 6 percent in December compared to last year’s prices.

Wings, always in high demand, are the priciest part of the bird. In the Northeast, chicken wing prices top out at $2.11 a pound, up 12 percent from 2012, according to the announcement.

The reasons for the price increase are plenty and tough to stomach for football fans across the country.

“Chicken companies produced about 1 percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices,” Bill Roenigk, chief economist and market analyst at the Washington, D.C.-based National Chicken Council said in a press release. “Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons: last summer’s drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol. Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced.”

Roenigk doesn’t expect the prices to go down easier anytime soon either.

“Demand for wings is proving more and more to be inelastic,” Roenigk said. “With the rising number of restaurants with menus dedicated to wings, the return of the NHL hockey season, the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament and then the start of grilling season, wing demand should remain hot.”

While the steeper price may affect some tailgaters and party throwers, economist Ryan Koory says poultry prices should start to fall at the end of 2013.

The National Chicken Council say the higher price may affect sales as well. They expect 1.23 billion chicken wings to be eaten Super Bowl weekend, down 12.3 million from last year.

In spite of that, Harry Balzer, vice president of the NPD Group, a market research firm said that on Super Bowl Sunday, a 156 percent increase on orders and carry-out orders of Buffalo wings is expected.

“The good news for consumers is that restaurants plan well in advance to ensure they have plenty of wings for the big game,” Roenigk said.

Chicken wings are more than a Super Bowl staple.

The International Federation of Competitive Eating has two events catered to Buffalo wings. Patrick Beroletti owns the boneless record; he ate nine pounds of them in 10 minutes on May 7, 2011. Sonya Thomas holds the Buffalo chicken tenders record with a 6.93-pound haul in 10-minutes on March 27, 2010.

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