Chicken wing consumption is second only to Thanksgiving on Super Bowl Sunday. But this year, high feed prices have left the US with a smaller chicken crop, and therefor, fewer chicken wings available.
(AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bob Andres)
It doesn't take much to start a furor with foodies, no matter how retrograde their tastes may be. Last fall, it was the pork industry crying wolf about an anticipated shortage of ham and bacon because of feed crops decimated by drought. This year, it's the National Chicken Council taking Mother Nature and the federal government to task for a shortfall in the production of chicken wings that will hold consumption to 1.23 billion wing segments during the 2013 Super Bowl, 12.3 million less than last year.
It's not that our appetite for these zesty, protein-rich snacks has diminished. Quite the contrary, said Bill Roenigk, chief economist and market analyst at the National Chicken Council, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group.
"Chicken companies produced about 1 percent fewer birds last year, due in large part to record high corn and feed prices," Roenigk said. "Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons: last summer's drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol. Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced."