U.S. consumer prices fell slightly in July, and while it’s not enough to call a reversal in the inflation that’s been running at its highest level in 40 years, some prices have gone down in rare cases of deflation, like bone-in chicken wings.
At their lowest price in four years, bone-in chicken-wings fell 19 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2021.
The price drop made national headlines in a time of a dearth of good news about the economy. Many consumers have forgotten what deflation is.
Battling rising prices and record-high food inflation, U.S. consumers plan to buy more chicken than other types of protein in the coming 12 months, according to the National Chicken Council.
Here are three things to know.
Lower wing prices, higher stock prices
Michael Skipworth, CEO of chicken chain Wingstop, announced three months ago in his company’s earnings report that he was seeing price deflation. The trend continues, according to the Wingstop’s latest results, released Thursday morning.
The news sent the Wingstop stock rallying 20 percent.
Early in the pandemic, chicken wings were a popular home delivery choice for people stuck at home and ordering food from restaurants. As demand rose, supply dropped off and prices went up. “The tasty treat transported well for a contactless drop-off at the door,” CNBC reported. “The higher demand ushered in what would become a pattern as the pandemic wore on: shortages and higher prices.”
Prices got so high in 2021 that many restaurants took them off the menu when patrons did not want to pay $14 for a small plate of wings.
“Oh good news,” tweeted Vladimir Yeetin’s Third Cousin, “because I know @wingstop was feeling it. Have not ate there in months. I ain’t paying $30 for 20 wings.”
Other poultry prices are rising
Retail chicken wing prices for whole wings ranged from $1.99 to $3.00 for the week Aug. 12 to Aug. 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Retail Report.
Average wholesale prices for bone-in chicken wings are down from a high of $3.25 a pound in May 2021 to about $1.68 a pound in July, their lowest since 2018 and trending lower for August, the USDA reported.
But other poultry prices are rising. A USDA report earlier this week estimates that chicken prices will rise 26-to-29 percent this year — more than a prior forecast of a 20-to-23-percent increase.
While wing prices have fallen, prices of chicken breasts, tenders and leg quarters are trending higher than other recent years, according to the No. 1 poultry producer, Pilgrim’s Pride.
“We saw a very fast decline in the price of wings to the prices that we have today,” Pilgrim’s Pride said in a conference call.
Sporting events boost demand for chicken wings
Football and basketball seasons sporting events tend to boost demand for chicken wings. Pilgrim’s Pride said it expects wing prices to start rising again as those sports gear up for their next seasons.
Low chicken wing prices are unlikely to last as the football season ramps up, NBC News reported. The NFL regular season starts Sept. 8.