Wingstop is ‘hacking’ menu amid wings shortages

By: Ruchi Gupta
Ruchi Gupta
Ruchi takes fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle very seriously. During her spare time, she enjoys swimming, running, and… read more.
on Jun 21, 2021
  • Wingstop launches new concept called Thighstop brand in 11 flavours
  • Chicken wings are in short supply leading to price hikes
  • Labor shortage and port delays adds to supply shortages

In recent weeks, chicken wings have been in short supply, and prices have been increasing. As a result, poplar chicken wing chain Wingstop Inc. (NASDAQ: WING) is forced to “hacking” its menu by launching crispy chicken thighs via a virtual restaurant called Thighstop, CNBC reported.

Wingstop debuts Thighstop virtual restaurant

Much like the core Wingstop concept, Thighstop customers would have options of 11 flavours to pick from. Additionally, options are also available between boneless or bone-in thighs. The Thighstop brand will be available for carryout or delivery in over 1,400 locations nationally through Thighstop.com or third-party delivery platform DoorDash Inc. (NYSE: DASH).

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During the pandemic, popularity of chicken wings surged for both take-out and dine-in customers. Currently, diners face tight supplies and price hikes due to labor shortages and port delays.

Interestingly, the National Chicken Council has yet to call the tightening chicken supply a shortage. In an email to CNBC, the council confirmed that the number of broiler chickens available for sale dropped 4% in Q1 2021 while total pounds produced were down 3% YoY. However, in April, production had started picking up, according to the council. This past week, the Department of Agriculture indicated that price of chicken wings had increased by $0.2 YoY to $2.72 per pound.

The council’s SVP of communications, Tom Super, said that the winter storm that hit Texas after the Super Bowl impacted major chicken-producing areas which affected availability. He said, “Even small gaps in the supply of wings can cause big fluctuations in price.”

Wingstop has strategies in place to meet the demand for chicken wings

Charlie Morrison, Wingstop CEO, said in the spring that the company had planned ahead and it is positioned to meet demand. At the time, Morrison said:

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.

Wingstop is positioning a new approach as an opportunity. Morrison said the company deserves credit for making chicken wings the “center-of-the-plate item.” Although the new chicken restaurant concept is in its very early stages, the company is hoping to also make thighs a “center-of-the-plate” option. This can be accomplished by combining the “bold, distinctive and craveable flavor” Wingstop customers are use to in new ways.

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