The chicken wing shortage is real in Memphis, and prices are going up too

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Chicken prices skyrocket in 'wing capital of the world'

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There’ve been a lot of shortages in this pandemic. First, it was toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

Now the growing demand for chicken is leading to supply shortage and a spike in prices. That’s impacting local suppliers and restaurants, which means eventually, you too.

This is very concerning for many in the Memphis area, a city that’s known for its wings.

“The chicken prices have skyrocketed,” said Larico Cole, owner of 18 Wayz Wingz and Thingz in East Memphis. “It’s already a high demand anyway in Memphis. We are the wing capital of the world, not just the city but the world.”

There are many highs and lows with operating a restaurant. But those challenges have been costlier during the pandemic.

Cole said there’s been an sharp increase in demand for chicken, with a limited supply.

“We’re paying $1.25 a wing. If you come and buy a 10-piece, I’m paying almost $13 myself,” Cole said.

That means he’s actually losing money now.

Thomas Ratliff, the co-owner of Ramon’s Meat Market, said wing prices typically go down after Super Bowl, but not this year.

“What we saw this year is Super Bowl happened, and it took a giant jump up,” Ratliff said.

Ratliff says he’s never seen cases of chicken go above $100. In February, they were $110 and are now up to $150 and climbing.

“Through social distancing and fewer people working at the packing plants, fewer truck drivers, the supply chain is a little skewed and that’s causing what we see as a shortage is just not being able to get them regularly,” Ratliff said.

Ratliff says prices are continuing to climb, but he believes it will eventually get to a point where that will cause the demand to drop, so things will level back out.

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