Chickens can’t fly (very well), but prices for their meat are soaring

Chicken Shack chicken is known for its cake-like batter. (File photo)

Chicken shortages and price hikes have impacted Baton Rouge businesses in recent months, but unlike elsewhere in the country, menu items haven’t changed yet.

The most popular chicken pieces—wings and breasts—have become more scarce and pricier for restaurants to purchase.

There’s been a ongoing shortage of chicken wings, says Vicki Minor, owner of Ms. Vicki’s Southern Kitchen. Not only that, but the cost of a case of chicken wings has jumped to almost $80 from $36.

Baton Rouge-based restaurant supplier S&W Wholesale Foods has had a hard time getting boneless, skinless chicken breasts, says Willard Driggers, vice president of merchandising, and heading toward the Super Bowl he expects wings will be harder to find.

With chicken becoming pricier and harder to find across the country many restaurants, including some national chains, are putting less expensive, darker meat like thighs on their menus, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Restaurants and chains market the darker meat as more flavorful. Wingstop, which has locations across the U.S., recently began marketing its Thighstop brand, focused exclusively on chicken thigh products. 

However, the demand locally for darker meat seems to be low. S&W is not getting requests for thighs and other dark meat, Driggers says. Minor still uses thighs only in her gumbo and jambalaya, but says she might sell more dark meat in the future if the issues persist.

Change could come in the next year, Driggers says, but the switch to thighs makes more sense for large chains like Wingstop, which has a wide customer base and serves an enormous amount of wings compared to local restaurants.