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Chicken wing shortage has Milwaukee restaurants raising prices, limiting quantities

Posted at 10:26 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 23:46:46-04

MILWAUKEE — The high demand for chicken wings has restaurants scrambling and prices are on the rise across the country. Local restaurants say they can still get wings, but they are paying more than they ever have for them.

“We’ve had this problem in the past around Super Bowl time. It usually goes up a little bit. It’s never hit this price before. We’ve been actually losing money the last like month,” said Steny’s Tavern and Grill owner Ryan Steny.

His restaurant has stopped its popular 75-cent wing night, put limits on how many wings customers can order and adjusted prices.

“Our wings are going to be market price, it’s almost like seafood now so every week it’s going to change. To be raising prices on our most popular item is tough. I’m worried about what our loyal customers are going to think,” says Steny.

Steny says he has had to go to three different distributors to fill his orders, and get the best price. The price is also fluctuating for poultry shops that sell chicken raw.

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Tower Chicken on Milwaukee’s southside says they are seeing the same increase.

“I’ve been doing this 25-plus years and I have never in my life seen wings doing what they’re doing,” said owner Greg Schmidt.

They’ve had to change the price almost daily at Tower Chicken, with the price per pound going up 14 cents last week and another 10 cents expected this week.

So why the shortage? Industry experts say chicken processors have had problems finding workers after starting back up post-COVID-19 shutdowns. There’s also the popularity of the wings. Some restaurants will sell thousands a week, while they sell fewer chicken breasts.

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