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Chicken wing prices fall to pre-pandemic levels — just in time for football season

You can breathe a thigh of relief.

It appears that the gods of football tailgating have smiled upon us on this day.

According to a USDA Department of Agriculture report released Aug. 18, chicken wings now cost less than they did at the start of the pandemic. Hallelujah, football season is saved! (Or at the very least, many of our wallets.)

In the USDA report, chicken wing costs fell down from a May 2021 high of $3.25 per pound to an average $2.68 per pound in January 2022. As of July, they fell again to $1.68 per pound. This is the lowest monthly average since May 2020, according to the report.

As to why the price of those beloved morsels of Buffalo sauce-drenched joy are falling, demand during the start of the pandemic and the resulting quarantine caused bone-in chicken wings to be bought at a higher rate for home consumption than ever before. This then caused restaurants, who were facing shortages, to switch to boneless wings, a trend many have stuck with, which caused bone-in wing supply to steadily rebound in the present. In fact, the USDA report said the amount of wings in cold storage was at its highest level at the end of June since 2018, and supplies increased for the second month in a row as of the report.

This data comes as demand for chicken wings and other poultry-based products has reached fever pitch. According to a July 2022 National Chicken Council study, Americans who were already facing inflation of such food staples as beef, pork chops and even eggs and bacon plan to buy more chicken than other types of protein in the year ahead. 

The study also inquired about which fresh proteins Americans surveyed planned on consuming in the next 6 to 12 months, with the largest portion, 37%, saying they plan to consume more chicken. A smaller portion, 15% plan to consume more beef and 14% plan to eat more pork. The folks, who were surveyed between June 30 and July 5, said nutrition, value and versatility are the top reasons for the plan to eat more chicken.

Additionally, prices for poultry products as a whole are starting to fall, with prices for whole birds and some chicken parts already dropping, with prices not expected to stay as high as they are now next year, according to experts.

Still, since supply and demand go hand-in-hand like you double fisting a pair of lemon pepper wings, as sports seasons begin to ramp up, so will demand for wings and other football food must-haves which has the potential to drive up prices for our beloved bone-in wings. The first football game of the NFL season this year is set for Sept. 8, so while prices are low, taking a trip to the supermarket to score yourself a pound or 20 to freeze may not be the worst idea.