According to GuestMetrics, based on its POS database, boneless chicken wings continued to make significant inroads in the chicken wing category in the first quarter of 2013. “Overall, chicken experienced healthy sales growth of about 4 percent during the first quarter of 2013, resulting in chicken wings being one of the top gainers in share of the food category sales in full-serve restaurants during the first quarter of the year,” said Bill Pecoriello, CEO of GuestMetrics LLC. “While 4 percent is a strong growth figure considering overall sluggish YTD growth in restaurants, the number of chicken wing dishes ordered in the full-service restaurants we track were actually down 5 percent, as consumers scaled back in the face of chicken wing pricing being up around 9% during 1Q13 compared to the prior year.”
“As we wrote about shortly before the Super Bowl, there is a fairly rapid shift taking place within the chicken wing category as boneless chicken wings take significant share of the category at the expense of bone-in chicken wings,” said Peter Reidhead, VP of strategy and insights at GuestMetrics. “While boneless chicken wings’ share of sales for the overall chicken wing category was 7 percent in 2011, it expanded to 13 percent in 2012, and was around 16 percent during the first quarter of 2013.” Based on data from GuestMetrics, while boneless chicken wings grew sales over 65% in the first quarter compared to the same period from the prior year, bone-in chicken wing sales contracted over 3%, netting out in the overall growth of 4% for the chicken wing category.
“Interestingly, while chicken wing wholesale prices peaked in January of this year and have since come down about 40 percent, chicken wing pricing in our on-premise universe continued to rise materially during the first 3 months of 2013, suggesting pricing in on-premise is lagged by at least a couple months from bulk pricing,” said Pecoriello. “However, looking at average chicken wing pricing in our universe in April, it did moderate quite a bit from March, so as we head further into the second quarter, we’ll be closely monitoring the impact of lower prices on demand.” Based on data from GuestMetrics, average chicken wing prices increased from $4.32 in January to $4.57 in February, peaked in March at $4.64, and have since moderated to $4.32 in April.