Wing prices inch higher heading into Super Bowl
n BY adam russell
Texas A&M AgriLife
Football fans should expect slightly higher chicken wing prices this year as more than one billion wings are expected to be eaten during Super Bowl LVIII, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
The National Chicken Council estimates 1.45 billion chicken wings and drumsticks will be consumed during the Feb. 11 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers for the Lombardi Trophy. This is the equivalent of 693 wings in every seat of all 30 NFL stadiums, according to the National Chicken Council release.
Over the past few decades, chicken wings and drumsticks have become a favorite snack for sports fans during Super Bowl. David Anderson, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist in the Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics, Bryan-College Station, doesn’t expect that long-term trend to change.
Their popularity for game day and casual dining has made wings, once an afterthought cut of meat, into one of the most valuable cuts from a chicken.
“Chicken wings are here to stay,” Anderson said. “They were a poultry cut that used to be practically worthless. But once someone created buffalo wings and added some ranch dressing or blue cheese, you had something great. Now they’re so popular that more and more restaurants want to capitalize on their sales. I don’t see that changing.”
Wing prices could take flight
Anderson said chicken wing lovers may frown to hear they could pay more per pound this year compared to last, but wholesale prices are still below the five-year average.
Wholesale prices are $1.76 per pound compared to $1.02 per pound last year, Anderson said. But that’s still below the five-year average of $2.02 per pound and the $2.66 per pound consumers paid going into Super Bowl week 2022.
“Chicken wings are here to stay. They were a poultry cut that used to be practically worthless. But once someone created buffalo wings and added some ranch dressing or blue cheese, you had something great.”
This week, retail prices for wings remained lower than last year, Anderson said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Retail Report for chicken showed whole wings averaged $2.60 per pound compared to $3.30 per pound in 2023 and $3.80 per pound the year before.
Anderson said the roller coaster prices were a direct result of seasonal demand created by the Super Bowl along with supply and demand market forces over the past two years.
Historically high prices in 2022 on all chicken cuts encouraged more production while likely driving consumers to other meat options, he said.
“Last year we had dramatically lower prices, which led production to be scaled back some, and that lower production has now led to some of the price increases we’ve seen,” he said. “It’s a great snapshot of the cause-and-effect from the production side to the consumer side and vice versa.”
Nothing bigger than the Super Bowl
Anderson said the popularity of buffalo wings parallels with a beef cut that was once considered cheap – the brisket – and the booming popularity of barbecue. Another parallel beyond high demand and subsequent high prices for both is that production is limited by animal physiology.
Like barbecue, the popularity of wings has fueled its expansion into the food and service industries, including specialty chain restaurants and sports bars. Anderson attributes much of the chicken wings’ growth directly to its status among sports fans.
“Wings are everywhere now,” he said. “Even pizza places are doing wings, and a large chicken chain is putting them on their menus just in time for the Super Bowl. But a lot of the wings’ position in popular culture today has been driven by businesses desire to cater to sports fans, and nothing is bigger than the Super Bowl.”