CLEVELAND — If you've dined in or ordered take out recently and struggled to get your chicken wing fix, or got a higher-than-normal bill, you're not alone.
A pinched poultry supply across the country has caused some restaurants to struggle to find and afford the staple of American cuisine.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, broiler (chickens raised for meat) head produced was down 4% in the first quarter of 2021 and pounds produced down 3%.
Back here at home, Angelina's Pizza in Olmsted Falls has had to take wings off their menu as the restaurant also deals with a shortage of another kind — a labor shortage.
"I have no applications right now. If I get to August and still have no applications, Monday won't be the only day that we are closed," said Ann Reichle, owner Angelina's Pizza, Olmsted Falls.
Reichle said that her other locations in North Ridgeville and Elyria are also experiencing the same problems.
The National Chicken Council said that wings are always in high demand. While there was a dip in production to start the year, other factors contributed to the poultry problem, like the severe winter storm that hit Texas in February and the most demanding event for wings of the year — the Super Bowl.
"As high as demand is for wings right now, even small gaps in the supply of wings can cause big fluctuations in price," said a spokesperson for the National Chicken Council.
The good news is while prices might be high right now, with some places knocking wings right off the menu entirely, things are trending up.
Broilers produced the week ending April 10 were up 4% versus a year ago. The week ending April 17, production was up 9%, and even as recently as last week, production was up 2%.
"The industry produces tens of billions of wings annually and producers are working diligently to meet the upsurge in consumer demand by adding millions more. As chicken production begins to resume back to a more normal pace of output in the coming months, and there is a better supply/demand ratio, the market tightness should ease," the National Chicken Council spokesperson said.
So while things looked a little bleak to start the year with little chicken, the sky is not falling as some Chicken Littles might claim. We should soon be able to return to our only chicken conundrum being the age-old argument of which is better: drums or flats.