Restaurants want to be sure that they have the best menu options for hungry customers. This is especially true during big events like The Big Game, Valentine's Day or Father's Day. But sometimes food shortages want to interfere. Having tasty alternatives in mind can help foodservice businesses be one step ahead when they run into a food shortage.
One example of a food shortage that is affecting many restaurants is that wings are in short supply. Various issues such as supply chain snags and worker shortages are leaving many restaurants scrambling to find a suitable chicken wing alternative. Fortunately, there are options which we'll discuss in this article. Let's fly.
Why is There a Chicken Wing Shortage?
Many restaurants and bars serve chicken wings for The Big Game. Traditionally, the Big Game is the biggest day for wings, with Americans consuming 1.42 billion pounds of them in 2021.
As with any consumer product, supply chain issues are rarely cut and dry. When it comes to chicken wings, there are several factors at play:
- Increased Demand - Wing consumption was up by about seven percent in 2021 compared to the previous year, illustrating how many more Americans are ready to get back to normal, including their diets.
- Increased Competition - As demand increases, suppliers can charge more for the same product since there's more competition from restaurants, grocery stores, and other food outlets. Higher prices make it harder for smaller establishments to keep up.
- Lower Supply - A harsh winter killed many chickens in 2021, so farms are struggling to satisfy demand. Even though it takes less time to breed a fully-grown chicken today than in years past, the process still takes a while.
- Staffing Shortages - Meatpacking plants across the country are operating with fewer workers than before the pandemic. So, with fewer people processing the chickens, it takes longer to get the wings to market.
No matter how you fry it, the shortage is real, and there's no end in sight (at least, not in the near future). So what are restaurants to do?
Chicken Wing Alternatives to Keep Your Customers Happy
Although wings are the preferred food of Big Game Sunday, desperate times call for desperate measures. And who knows? Perhaps this shortage will usher in a new era of expanded menus with more chicken wing alternatives. While we can't predict the future, we can recommend the following options:
More Americans are searching for healthy dishes, with 20 percent actively looking for alternatives and 60 percent trying to eat healthy regularly. So, you can appeal to the masses by offering breaded cauliflower nuggets, such as these from Ajinomoto Foods. As long as you can serve some delicious sauces on the side, consumers will feel like they're splurging without adding extra grease and empty calories.
Other Chicken Parts
Chickens offer many delicious pieces, with the wings accounting for a small fraction of the entire body. Some other parts you can feature for the Big Game include:
- Thighs - With wings in short supply, chicken thighs are having a moment in the sun. More restaurants are choosing this cut because it offers similar flavors without the high prices. On average, thighs cost about half as much as wings.
- Tenders and strips - Part of the appeal of wings is the ability to dip. You can use tenders (or boneless wings) to continue that tradition.
"Fry" Your Chicken Wing Alternatives With the New Vulcan Combi
Just as your menu has to adapt to the times, you need a fryer that can keep up. Fortunately, the Vulcan Combi is a high-end device that can accommodate everything from wings to thighs and all other parts of the bird. Even without a shortage, this machine has some pretty impressive features, such as:
- Versatility - Vulcan's new TCM Combi can bake, roast, sear, steam, braise, AND fry! The Vulcan combi oven has the ability to essentially remove moisture from the cavity to achieve a crispy texture.
- Self-Cleaning and Descaling - Spend less time cleaning and maintaining your Combi and let it clean itself.
- Interactive Touchscreen - Program your recipes to ensure consistency and speed in the kitchen. Picture-based selections for pre-programmed recipes.
Overall, the Vulcan Combi enables you to do more with less. Adaptability is the name of the foodservice game, and this machine helps you stay ahead.