Canadian Poultry Magazine

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Chicken wing supply issues resolved

While other countries faced significant supply and price issues, Canada fared much better.


August 5, 2021
By Brett Ruffell

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Balsamic Honey Chicken Wings (CNW Group/Chicken Farmers of Canada)

There have been media reports this summer about a global shortage of chicken wings, leading to soaring prices in some countries.

Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) acknowledges that the Canadian market had some moderate supply issues earlier in the summer. However, the organization says those challenges have been mostly resolved. What more, it says prices in Canada didn’t increase as much as they did in other countries.

CFC says those supply issues were due to several factors, not just one. But it was mostly an issue of demand, not supply. “Demand for wings has been extremely high this year, likely due to people seeking out comfort foods and trying new cuts at home and with takeout,” says Lisa Bishop-Spencer, CFC’s director of brand and communications.

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Canadian wing demand in general has been exceptionally strong over the past 15 months. As a result, restaurants that have always followed a strong delivery model didn’t have to change their business model that much during the pandemic, Bishop-Spencer observes.

“Wings travel well and hold up during delivery conditions. Plus, they align with consumer desire for comfort food during the pandemic. People are also making more wings at home, too – the air fryer revolution helped a lot there,” she says.

As for the impact of COVID-19, foodservice represents about 40 per cent of the Canadian chicken industry’s total production.

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, people turned to buying their food at retail, but it wasn’t enough to fill the gap left by foodservice. Thus, the Canadian chicken sector reduced its production by about 10 to 12 per cent for the spring/summer period of 2020.

Now that provinces are reopening their economies, those numbers are rising again. However, Canada doesn’t produce enough chickens to meet its domestic demand for wings. So, the country has to import some wings, mainly from the U.S. and Brazil.

But those countries have also had their challenges over the course of the last year.

“So, yes, supply was tight – but demand, on the other hand, has shifted, too,” Bishop-Spencer explains. “Production has already started to increase, both here and in other countries. We can expect the availability of wings to increase, as well.”