Why did the chicken wing get so expensive?

·4 min read

May 28—PLATTSBURGH — Paying more for chicken wings these days?

Corey Rosoff, owner and operator of downtown Plattsburgh pub Monopole, said wing prices are skyrocketing week after week, forcing he and others across the restaurant industry to jack up their prices.

"We've changed our menu prices at least three times and we're going to be forced to raise our prices again — or just not sell wings. It's one or the other," he said.

"I've never seen the chicken wing market do what it's doing right now."

PRICES SOAR

Monopole, around since 1897, functions mostly as a bar, but has gained some clout for its pizza and wing selection, selling 600-plus pounds of wings in a year.

It has two weekly wing days, on Wednesdays and Sundays, offering a deal on the chicken and tossing them in one of their 12-or-so original sauces.

Wings usually go 10 for $10.75, but are now listed on Monopole's menu as 10 for $14.75. And wing day specials have risen, too, now costing $0.90 per wing.

Though chicken wings are typically pricier around the Super Bowl, Pizza Palace General Manager Zeke Perras said they never came back down.

"It has just continued to increase," Perras, a 20-plus-year veteran of the restaurant industry, said. "I've never seen the price of chicken wings get this high."

The Tom Miller Road restaurant in the Town of Plattsburgh paid about $60 per chicken wing case this time last year, he said.

"Now we're paying close to $170 per case."

Though Pizza Palace "held off as long as it could" before raising prices, Perras said they eventually started to charge $14.99 for 10 wings, up $2.

Wendy's Quick Stop, a convenience store in Chateaugay, had to up its wing prices, too.

Owner Wendy Jones posted an update to her business' Facebook page about a week ago, saying, "Due to a shortage and the rising cost of chicken wings we will be slightly raising our price of wings. We apologize for the inconvenience. As noted on our menu 'Prices are subject to Change' We strive to keep our prices affordable and competitive. As always we appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you at the Quick Stop."

"With the pandemic and then the chicken wing shortage and stuff, the rising cost of everything, it has been really hard," Jones later told the Press-Republican.

LABOR, FUEL

Asked why chicken wing prices were on the rise, Rosoff said he had heard "just about every reason" from his distributer.

Supply and demand and/or weather, like Midwest droughts or rainstorms where chicken gets manufactured, were usually the root causes of wing price increases, Rosoff said.

"Now they're adding to it reasons related to the pandemic. Whether it be the labor market that everyone is struggling with or the fuel and trucking costs. It pretty much changes weekly, but prices have been going up on a weekly basis."

Perras noted labor issues, as well, but said it was affecting more than just meat costs.

"The price of fryer oil has doubled and the price of some of the ingredients that you use to make wing sauce has also doubled over the past couple of months," he added. "It has all been a very sharp increase in a short amount of time."

SALES DROP

Pizza Palace was being transparent with its customers, advertising the price increase via signs taped to its door and counter.

"The majority of people have been really understanding of it," he said, adding that the restaurant had seen a drop in wing sales. "We're definitely selling more pizza, more pasta, more boneless wings — we've tried to really market the boneless wings. They're not so much affected, so we're able to sustain those prices.

"We've definitely seen a drop in bone-in sales and an increase in the boneless sales."

Though Jones had some regulars question her price increase, she thought to herself, "What are you going to do? You have to make money. You can't break even — or you can't lose money."

'NO END'

Rosoff expected wing costs to continue rising across the industry, including at Monopole.

"If this continues — we can't keep going on like this," he said. "I get the market updates from both of my wholesalers and they say, 'No end in sight.'"

Email McKenzie Delisle:

mdelisle@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle