According to GuestMetrics, based on its proprietary database of POS transactions of more than $8 billion dollars in transactions and more than 250 million checks from restaurants and bars across the United States, chicken wings achieved the largest share gain in the food category in 2012.
“In analyzing the 64 percent of sales in table service restaurants and bars that comes from food, the largest share gain in the category was achieved by chicken wings,” says Bill Pecoriello, CEO of GuestMetrics LLC. “While food sales grew almost 1 percent in 2012 compared to the prior year, chicken wing sales grew nearly 11 percent,” continues Pecoriello.
According to GuestMetrics, chicken wings sales in 2012 grew 10.7 percent, the net result of the number of chicken wing orders growing 7.3 percent and chicken wing prices increasing 3.4 percent. As commodity inflation picked up late in the year, the price consumers paid for chicken wings surged 13 percent in recent weeks as restaurant operators passed the higher costs onto consumers. The higher prices did result in a slower order rate which needs to be monitored in the weeks ahead, including during the all-important Super Bowl event.
“In further analyzing the chicken wing category, we see the growth was largely due to strength seen among boneless chicken wings, which accounted for about 14 percent of chicken wing sales in 2012,” says Peter Reidhead, VP of Strategy and Insights at GuestMetrics. “Given the average price of boneless chicken wings is $7.99 versus $6.87 for regular chicken wings, this shift in consumer preferences should prove to be a further positive for restaurants selling chicken wings.”
“In our minds, this underscores the importance of restaurant operators having an up-to-date understanding of the fastest growing food items and to adjust their menus accordingly. Additionally, given the strong growth seen in chicken wings in 2012, this could potentially provide a lift to sales for the upcoming Super Bowl Sunday, which is obviously an important event for many restaurants and bars, particularly given the relatively weak note that 2012 ended on for much of the restaurant sector,” says Brian Barrett, president of GuestMetrics. The one watch out will be if the recent double digit surge in prices mutes what is a strong underlying trend in consumer demand.