Chicken’s a super versatile and popular foodservice offer across all dayparts. In restaurants, servings of chicken wings were up 7% in 2020 vs. 2019 despite an 11% decline in trips to commercial restaurants over the same time period, according to NPD Group/CREST data.
Additionally, total U.S. wing retail sales during the pandemic months totaled almost $3 billion, up 10.3% from a year ago (IRI, March 15, 2020, through Jan. 17, 2021).
There are several reasons for the uptick, said National Chicken Council Spokesperson Tom Super.
“Wings travel well and hold up during delivery conditions,” he said. “Plus, they align with consumer desire for comfort food during the pandemic. Chicken production remained steady in 2020, and as long as people are sitting around watching TV and maybe drinking a beer, wings will remain in the game. Don’t forget the air fryer revolution, either.”
So, which type of chicken do customers prefer?
According to the National Chicken Council, it’s a pretty even split; about half (53%) of Americans said they prefer eating bone-in, traditional wings vs. boneless wings. Two in five (38%) Americans say that the breast is their favorite cut of chicken, but wings (20%) are second.
As for sauces, barbecue (52%), ranch (46%) and buffalo/hot sauce (41%) are the preferred choices. And french fries are by far the preferred side for wings (72%), distantly followed by celery (14%).