No matter the result on Super Sunday, chicken wings will come out a winner. Wings, a co-product of poultry production, are commanding high prices and high consumer demand ahead of Super Bowl 50.
According to the National Chicken Council (NCC), 1.3 billion chicken wings will be consumed between January 29 and Feburary 7, the day of the Super Bowl. The Washington-based poultry association estimated that’s roughly four wings for every citizen of the U.S.
Every year, demand for wings peaks in the fourth quarter of the year as retailers and restaurants stock up ahead of the NFL’s championship game. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the current wholesale price of chicken wings is about $1.78 per pound.
The price has dipped significantly from last year, when wings sold for about $2 per pound. Tom Super, a spokesman for the NCC, said in a release that the lower price is due to a higher volume of chicken production in 2015.
Since the turn of the century, chicken wing prices have more than doubled, however. According to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the price has increased by 117 percent between January 2000, when they sold for 82 cents per pound, and now.
Mike Donohue, vice president of agricultural research company Agri Stats Inc., noted the biggest change in the last 15 years has been the consistent demand for chicken wings. At the turn of the century, wing prices would drop sharply following the Super Bowl, but now the price is more consistent for the entire year. He attributed the strong performance to the growing number of chicken-wing based restaurants.
Deep-fried chicken wings rolled in hot sauce are nothing new, the dish has been a staple on bar menus since the 1960s, but demand for wings has exploded since restaurant chains like McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Domino’s Pizza started putting them on the menu in the 1990s.
Since then a number of chicken wing specific restaurants have sprung up. Research conducted by the NCC indicates more than 300 chicken wing-centric restaurants were founded in 2015 alone. The success of the country’s most recognizable wing franchise, Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. – a 34-year-old, publicly traded company with more than 1,100 restaurants and a market capitalization of $2.85 billion – speaks to the humble wing’s financial clout.
Can wings predict the outcome of the Super Bowl?
The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers are set to kick off at 6:30 p.m. eastern standard time on Sunday, but the NCC says wings may have already decided a victor.
Through the 2016 NFL playoffs, the city that bought more wings from the grocer than their opponent has won seven out of 10 games. The same has been true for four out of the last five championship games.
“If the same holds true for Super Bowl 50, the Panthers will roll over the Broncos – selling wings at nearly a three to one pace,” a release from the NCC said.