Football fans might be surprised at the matchup, but one thing is not surprising: America’s love for chicken wings. This is never more apparent than on Super Bowl weekend, when wings are at their hottest. Americans are anticipated to devour 1.42 billion wings while watching the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams battle for the Lombardi Trophy, according the National Chicken Council’s (NCC) 2022 Wing Report.
“There will be no wing shortage,” said NCC spokesperson Tom Super. “Like almost anything else you buy right now, wings might be a little more expensive, but they’ll be stocked. I just wouldn’t wait until kickoff to be in line or order online.”
Bengals and Rams fans have not only rallied around their teams, they’ve rallied around the chicken wing. Wing sales in Cincinnati have seen a 27.6 percent growth during the NFL playoffs and Los Angeles a 37.3 percent increase compared to the same period last year (Source: IRI, 4 weeks ending 1/23/22).
Wholesale wing prices are down 19 percent from their high last May, according to USDA data. Retail wing prices are up about $0.30 per pound on average from the same time last year. Why the uptick? Many costs, like the price of chicken wings, have increased because of unusually high demand, record input costs, labor shortages that have reduced the supply of many goods and government spending programs that have flooded the economy. Greater demand and less supply equals higher prices, ultimately resulting in the highest inflation our country has seen in 40 years.
“Demand for chicken wings has been through the roof since the beginning of the pandemic,” Super added. “A shift from sit-down restaurants to takeout and quick service has boosted chicken wing consumption. Restaurants like wing joints and pizza places were built around takeout and delivery, and as long as people are sitting around watching TV and maybe drinking a beer, wings will remain in the game.”
To help meet increased demand last year, some chicken producers diverted birds traditionally marketed as whole birds for parts instead, like wings. More good news is the end-December frozen wing inventory totaled 73.2 million pounds, up 70 percent from last year, which should provide some cushion. Chicken companies, retailers and restaurants have planned ahead for the Big Game.
How do 1.42 billion chicken wings stack up? Picture this:
- It would take 17,108 bitcoin to purchase 1.42 billion wings (as of 1/28/22, one Bitcoin is $36,418).
- Assuming Molly Schuyler, the world record holder for eating 501 wings in 30 minutes, could keep this pace up–it would take her 162 years to eat 1.42 billion wings.
- If 1.42 billion wings were split between all the TikTok, Instagram and Spotify downloads in 2021, each individual could get 1 wing per download.
- 1.42 billion wings could circle the circumference of the Earth 3 times.