With the price of chicken wings rising – Wingstop said that it was “hacking” its own brand by launching Thighstop, a virtual restaurant offering crispy chicken wings, amid a shortage of chicken wings and rising prices.
As with the original Wingstop, customers can pick up one of the 11 flavors and choose boned or boneless thighs. The new brand will be available for delivery or implementation in 1,400 locations nationwide via DoorDash or on Thighstop.com, the company said.
Chicken wings became popular during the pandemic for both meal and take-out customers. Port delays and labor shortages have resulted in scarce supplies ranging from computer chips to chlorine tablets.
The National Chicken Council hasn’t called the tight supply of chicken a “shortage” but a recent email said that the number of broilers raised for meat fell by 4% in the first quarter, and the pound was down 3% over one year. Production recovered in April, the council said.
But as of last week, chicken wings averaged $2.72 per round on average, nearly 20 cents higher than the same week last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Key chicken-producing regions were hit with a major winter storm in Texas, impacting availability, said Tom Super, senior vice-president of communications for the council.
In the spring, Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrisons said the company had plans ahead and would be able to meet its demand. “The pandemic has caused challenges to be able to staff plants to be able to slaughter enough chickens to be able to meet the demands of the marketplace. And I think that’s seen everywhere. I mean, the price of chicken across the board is high, especially high for wings,” Morrison said at the time.
Morrison also mentioned labor workforce as a factor in the tight supply of wings. He sees the new strategy as an opportunity.
“Wingstop pioneered the concept of chicken wings as a center-of-the-plate item. Although Thighstop is in its infancy, we’ve been exploring bone-in and boneless thighs as center-of-the-plate options for some time now as a way to offer fans new ways to enjoy Wingstop’s bold, distinctive and craveable flavors,” he asserts.