'Fowl' conspiracy on chicken wing shortage - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

'Fowl' conspiracy on chicken wing shortage

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Tom Dees / FOX13 News Tom Dees / FOX13 News
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

We are not paltry on poultry when it comes to the big game in New Orleans on Sunday. It's estimated that on Feb. 3, Americans will consume 1.23 billion chicken wings before, during and after kickoff.

That's a lot of chicken.

But there are rumblings of a chicken wing shortage, but many they think that it just may be a way to make another buck off of a bird.

SOUND OFF: Is there a chicken wing shortage?
"Last couple of years, we get this supply and demand thing from the 'chicken producers,'" said Uncle Lou Martin of Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken.

Uncle Lou, who has been serving up wings on a daily basis for years, has noticed a trend. When it comes to chicken, Uncle Lou is a chicken statistician, a man who knows chicken numbers.
"Back in October we were paying like $73 (a case), and as of yesterday, the wings I get are $92 a case," Uncle Lou said. "They are going up $3-$4 a case for the next four to five weeks according to my sales reps."
As for why, Uncle Lou says he was told there was a shortage of chicken wings, but this isn't the first time he's been told that.

"Whether it's valid or not, only the chicken producers and God knows, but they hit us with it every year," he said.
Thoughts among some chicken wing people are that there is a chicken wing conspiracy, about driving the prices of wings up.

"Sports season, wings up. Summertime, wings down, so you know, they say it's supply and demand," Uncle Lou said.

"But who is to say, you know, if we need the inventory for it, we have got to pay the price for them to accommodate the customers," added Ashley Lyons of D'Bo's Hotwings.  

Lyons, who is a manager at D'Bo's, thinks she knows why prices for a case of chicken wings have spiked in recent weeks.

"Maybe because they are such a high demand for them because there are a lot of wing places in business, and a lot of supply is needed for the wings," she said.

Grocer Jeff Burkett has seen wing prices continue to go up, shortage or not.

"There was a day when you could buy wings dirt cheap, but now wings are higher than the breasts," Burkett said. "According to the price fluctuations, wings are a buck a pound higher than breasts."

"If technology can create a six wing bird, we would be happy," said Uncle Lou.

Uncle Lou's and D'Bo's saying they are not passing the recent spike in wing cost on to customers. Some poultry producers say the drought this past year has affected the price of grain and feed and that has made wings scarce and pricey.

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