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Chicken breast cost rises, wing cost falls

In this weekly Commodities Watch column, John T. Barone, president and commodities analyst for Market Vision Inc., offers a snapshot of the state of commodities for restaurants.

Call it role reversal: The cost of chicken breast is rising while that of chicken wings is decreasing.

Boneless skinless chicken breast is at a 9-year high of $1.84 per pound with a cost increase of $.31 in just the past month. Strong retail and foodservice usage (i.e., KFC’s new boneless offerings) should keep prices well supported. Highs should reach nearly $1.90 this month before settling back into the $1.70s in June.

Wings, at $1.38, are now at a 2-year low and $.76 below highs reached in early February surrounding the Super Bowl. Wing inventories, at 74.9 million pounds, are 125.8 percent higher than a year ago and 98.1 percent above the 5-year average. These numbers reflect dampened consumer demand due to earlier sky-high prices, which may have forced many restaurant operators to pull wings from their menus.

Chicken wings could hit seasonal summer lows in the $1.20s, but a potential McDonald’s wing rollout could push prices higher.

Contact John T. Barone at [email protected].

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