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Chicken wing shortage has local bar-b-que restaurant ‘winging it’



SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Add chicken wings to the list of garden gnomes and tapioca pearls that are in short supply in 2021. The National Chicken Council reports there is a chicken wing shortage thanks to the high demand during the pandemic. Neil Harfert, president of R&R Bar-b-que believes it’s also due to more restaurants getting into the chicken wings business.

“Almost everyone is featuring wings now, and there’s actually something called ‘ghost kitchens,’” Harfert said, “where restaurants will build in a warehouse that’s not a guest-facing restaurant that diners can actually go into.  [Instead] they’ll sell product through DoorDash and different vendors, so wings have become very popular for them.”

Harfert says it looks like, for the time being, their award-winning wings won’t be as readily available. He says they’ll continue to get intermittent shipments, but they may only last for a week or two at a time.

Chicken wing shortage = high demand, high costs

According to the National Chicken Council, the price of chicken wings is on the rise. In February 2020 they cost $1.81 a pound.  The year 2021 began with a pound of wings averaging $2.27 and this week, wings are averaging $2.65 a pound.

Harfert says they are working hard with their vendors to source more wings with the same high-quality standards that R&R customers have come to expect.

According to an email rife with chicken wing puns, the restaurant said if you are part of their rewards program and you have a chicken wing reward, they will be able to credit you the equivalent of $10 in R&R cash (not transferable) for any other menu offerings.

Harfert said their Wednesday special is always a big hit, so they hope this is a temporary shortage. He said they weren’t making a big profit off the dish in light of the spike in prices due to high demand.  In fact, he says just before the shortage, they had been paying about twice for wings as they were paying this time last year.