McDonald’s entry into the chicken wing market is driving up the price of wholesale wings.
Chicken wing purveyors like Buffalo Wild Wings take heed: The McDonald’s effect has arrived.
The big fast feeder completed a national rollout this week of its new “Mighty Wings.” It’s no coincidence that wholesale wing prices have risen recently more than they normally would during the fall chicken wing season.
Yes, there are chicken wing seasons, and football is a big factor. Wholesale wing prices are now in the low $1.60s per pound, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up from under $1.40 in May, a relatively slack time for wings.
Len Steiner, an agribusiness consultant, estimated that McDonald’s entry into the wing market has probably added 8 to 10 cents per pound to wholesale prices. Suburban Chicago-based McDonald’s is gigantic enough to move wholesale markets when it launches new products.
Steiner, who cowrites the Daily Livestock Report for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, also noted that wing prices have been under pressure this summer due to record high broiler prices generally.
Chicken wings have been a hot spot in the restaurant business, and no company has ridden the wing wave as successfully as Golden Valley-based Buffalo Wild Wings. With over 900 outlets nationwide, it’s the nation’s leading chicken wing chain. Buffalo Wild Wings declined to comment.
The company suffered record high wholesale wing prices in 2012. A year ago, wholesale prices were around $1.90 per pound. So, $1.60 per pound or so — while still at least 20 cents above the five-year average — doesn’t look so bad, regardless of McDonald’s.
Mighty Wings are essentially in test mode now. McDonald’s will be offering them through November. But if they’re a hit, they’re likely to stick around at the Golden Arches.
Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003