Chicken shortage impacting restaurants across the country

It’s not like we weren’t warned. The doomsayers predicted this months ago: “A MASSIVE CHICKEN WING SHORTAGE IS BREWING,” blared the headline of one trade publication in early February. 

But it turned out to be so much worse, The Washington Post reports. 

It seems the poultry paucity has arrived, heralded by a series of fast-food executives describing in earnings calls their stores’ struggles to stock enough chicken—nuggets, tenders, wings, patties, all shapes and sizes—to keep pace with legions of peckish Americans.

“Demand for the new sandwich has been so strong that, coupled with general tightening in domestic chicken supply, our main challenge has been keeping up with that demand,” says David Gibbs, CEO of Yum Brands, whose KFC restaurants recently rolled out a new fried-chicken sandwich. 

Charles R. Morrison, chairman and CEO of Wingstop, said this week, “Suppliers are struggling, just as many in our industry are, to hire people to process chicken, thus placing unexpected pressure on the amount of birds that can be processed and negatively affecting supply of all parts of the chicken in the U.S., not just wings.”

Chicken has for years been the most popular meat in the U.S. and experts and analysts have cited several reasons for the current deficit. Some are related to the pandemic-spurred disruptions in the market and supply chain and an increased demand for a comfort food that is takeout- or delivery-friendly. Other reasons, industry watchers say, include increased competition, volatile feed prices and even the deadly winter storms that swept over the South in February, halting the work of chicken processors. Read the full story.