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September 8, 2012

With drought, football snack prices take wing

(Continued)

Americans eat about 25 billion wings annually, industry data show.

"You're not going to see the 99-cent wing promotions like you used to," said John Davie, president of Boston-based Dining Alliance, which represents about 10,000 U.S. restaurant companies. He predicted the price of wings will probably reach $2 a pound this year.

"People are still out and restaurants are still busy, but revenues still may go down because people are more conservative about how much they're spending and how much they're going out," Davie said.

The price of wings sold at restaurants and supermarkets usually falls after the Super Bowl in February and the NCAA basketball tournament in March, said Tom Super, a spokesman for the Washington-based National Chicken Council. That didn't happen this year because producers cut output to limit losses from surging feed costs.

Buffalo Wild Wings, a chicken-and-beer dining chain based in Minneapolis, said the cost of its wings in the quarter starting July 1 will be 68 percent higher than a year earlier. That compares with 3 percent for all other commodity costs.

While the U.S. chicken industry returned to profit in January after months of losses amid a supply glut, production declined in the first half of 2012 and rising feed costs threaten to erode profit margins, according to Stephens Inc., an investment bank in Little Rock, Ark.

Deep-fried chicken wings were dubbed Buffalo wings because they were first served in 1964 at the city's Anchor Bar, according to the National Chicken Council. Teressa Bellissimo, the bar's owner, would fry leftover chicken wings in hot sauce for her son and his friends and they were so popular she put them on the menu.

Kinecki, at Duff's Famous Wings, said suppliers haven't told him the price of wings for the rest of the year.

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