Customers Decide: Boneless vs. Bone-in Chicken Wings

Wing prices increased during the summer while the demand remained high but prices declined over the past three months.

This time of year when customers often stay indoors watching sports many turn to chicken wings as their snack/meal of choice.

Just as sports enthusiasts choose a team, wing enthusiasts choose their type of chicken wing, either bone-in or boneless, according to The NPD Group, a global information company. With 45% of the population ordering chicken wings at restaurants and foodservice outlets and servings on the rise, it behooves restaurant operators to know who is on team bone-in and who is on team boneless.

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And the most popular type of chicken wing is…: bone-in. The demand for bone-in chicken wings is strong. Over 60% of wings served at restaurants are bone-in. Further, over the past year, servings of bone-in were up 6% while declining by a similar rate for boneless, according to a new NPD study entitled, The Chicken Wing Dilemma.

The NPD study, which is based on its Checkout consumer receipt harvesting service, examines the purchase patterns of wing buyers and how restaurant operators react to fluctuating wing prices. Wing prices increased during the summer while the demand remained high but prices declined over the past three months. Boneless wings are more heavily promoted over bone-in wings when prices are high.

“Foodservice operators and suppliers offering chicken wings need to understand purchase patterns of wing buyers in order to menu appropriately, price accordingly, and tailor marketing to grow in the headwinds of price increases,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “Most wing buyers aren’t fair weather fans; they are super fans who stick with one type of wing regardless of price.”

*Boneless wings are made out of chicken breasts and formed into wings.