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Americans projected to eat 1.42b chicken wings for Super Bowl

Over 160 million plant-based wing alternatives projected to be eaten.

February 2, 2022

3 Min Read
Americans projected to eat 1.42b chicken wings for Super Bowl
National Chicken Council

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 % growth during the NFL playoffs and Los Angeles a 37.3% increase compared to the same period last year.

Wholesale wing prices are down 19% from their high last May, according to USDA data. Retail wing prices are up about 30 cents 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% from last year, which should provide some cushion. Chicken companies, retailers and restaurants have planned ahead for the Big Game.

Plant-based alternatives

Compassion in World Farming has calculated over 160 million plant-based chicken wings will be eaten during the big game as more than ten million Americans are expected to pass on animal-based chicken wings this year. CWF said this proves that meat alternatives represent the future of food.

“Every year we’re told how many animal-based chicken wings will be eaten during the Superbowl,” said Ben Williamson, U.S. executive director for Compassion in World Farming. “But one of the fastest-growing food trends is the increasing popularity of healthy and humane plant-based versions of classic American foods, which taste identical to the animal variety. So, we decided to estimate how many football fans will be eating compassionately next Sunday.”

Compassion USA’s calculations are based on survey findings that roughly 6% of the U.S. population consider themselves vegetarian or vegan, and roughly one-third (33.5%) of Americans have adopted a flexitarian or reduced-meat diet. Data suggest that more than 100 million Americans watch the Superbowl each year.

“Plant-based meat products are now more widely available than ever before, online and in your local supermarket,” said Williamson. “There’s never been a better time to replace your meat made from animals, with meat made from plants—for your health and for the sake of the planet.”

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