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Chicken wings are cheaper than they were before the pandemic

Stock up on your drums and flats now — these prices aren't expected to stick around for long.

It's no secret to anyone who's gone to a grocery store lately that things like eggs, meat and milk are pricier than usual. But, luckily, this isn't another story about inflation driving up food prices. 

Chicken wings are actually cheaper than they were before the pandemic, just in time for football season.

According to an August report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the price for a pound of chicken wings dropped to around $1.69 in July — the lowest monthly average since May 2020. For context, wings were $3.25 per pound in May 2021 and $2.68 per pound in January.

At the same time, the price for a pound of chicken breasts went down a little from May to July but is still a dollar more than it was this time last year. Prices for chicken leg quarters have also been steadily climbing since April, based on USDA data.

So, why are some chicken prices higher than usual while wings are the cheapest they've been in years?

Apparently, the demand for different parts of the chicken has a lot to do with it.

Fabio Sandri, the CEO of multinational poultry producer Pilgrim's Pride, broke it down on a recent company earnings call. He explained that chicken wings grew in popularity at the start of the pandemic when people were getting a lot of food delivered. But, when the price reached more than $3 per pound, some restaurants took them off the menu.

Some replaced bone-in wings with boneless wings, which are actually breast meat. Others started focusing on other parts of the bird, like Wingstop, which introduced the virtual brand "Thighstop."

This allowed the wing supply to increase while driving up prices for other cuts of chicken.

Credit: USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service
Monthy average wholesale chicken prices

"So with that, we saw a very fast decline in the price of wings to the prices that we have today," Sandri said. "But, we expect also the wings to start rising now coming the football and the basketball season."

The low chicken wing prices likely aren't here to stay, so savor those unusually cheap drums and flats while you can.

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