Wingstop launches Thighstop amid chicken wing shortage

The nation’s chicken wars and cravings for comfort food during the pandemic have made poultry so scarce and expensive that some restaurants are limiting or running out of chicken sandwiches, wings and tenders.

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Wingstop’s Thighstop is encouraging guests to try thighs, which are one of the juiciest and most flavorful parts of the chicken.

Wingstop’s Thighstop is encouraging guests to try thighs, which are one of the juiciest and most flavorful parts of the chicken.

Thighstop

Wingstop is expanding its body of chicken offerings with Thighstop, an online-only, temporary restaurant that will deliver chicken thighs via DoorDash amid a chicken shortage.

The “new thigh concept” will be available at more than 1,400 locations nationwide and is addressing the “consumer’s fear of a chicken wing shortage head-on,” the company said in a release provided by Thighstop spokesperson Megan Sprague.

“We think they’ll appeal to guests because they’re a different part of the chicken and therefore a new way to experience Wingstop flavor,” Charlie Morrison, CEO and chairman of Wingstop restaurants, said.

“They eat like a wing, but with more meat,” Morrison continued.

Chicken lovers will have access to a menu filled with crispy thighs of a naked and sauce-covered variety with 11 signature Wingstop flavors.

And it doesn’t stop with the drumstick. Other Wingstop items including its ranch and blue cheese dips, fried corn, french fries and rolls are also available to order from Thighstop.

Eventually, Morrison hopes thighs will be incorporated into the larger Wingstop menu as a permanent addition.

Chicken wing shortage is ongoing

Thighstop claimed in its launch announcement that it is addressing consumer fear over a wing shortage which made the news last month.

The nation’s chicken wars and cravings for comfort food during the pandemic have made poultry so scarce and expensive that some restaurants are limiting or running out of chicken sandwiches, wings and tenders. Others are considering changes to menus and promotions.

Heavy winter storms took a larger bite out of supply. While some restaurants have not been able to meet demand, it’s unclear if and how the low supplies will affect consumers in the grocery store.

The poultry industry is tamping down growing alarm over a chicken shortage with National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super saying there was a “very tight supply but short of a shortage.”

“Yes, supply is somewhat tight, but the sky certainly isn’t falling,” Super said in May. “Chicken producers are doing everything they can to overcome the devastating impact of Mother Nature when she inflicted the once-in-a-lifetime winter storm on Texas and nearby states — major chicken producing regions.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, broilers — chickens raised for meat — slaughter was down 4% in the first quarter of 2021, with pounds produced down 3%. Production began picking back up in early April, Super said.

Morrison said the shortage has less to do with product than it does with labor.

“The shortage has as much to do with the impact of government stimulus and creating an artificially high wage rate that is competitive to the people that are necessary to actually process chicken,” Morrison said. “Because of this, the absolute number of chickens that are being processed is down.”

Sales are still on the rise at Wingstop, though. Morrison said that Wingstop saw 20.7% sales growth in the first quarter of this year in spite of constraints. Introducing Thighstop, he said, allows the company to focus on additional parts of the chicken.

Thighs are good for profit

Thighs haven’t been the traditional choice for chicken lovers seeking a snack for Sunday Night Football and similar occasions. But the darker-meat option is still filled with flavor and could help fill Wingstop’s coffers.

Chicken thighs go for about half the price of chicken wings, according to Morrison, who said that the price of wings is on the rise.

Thighstop is selling chicken thighs at a similar price point to Wingstop’s chicken wings with a higher profit given how much cheaper that part of the chicken is for the company to purchase.

“Offering thighs also allows us to advance our whole-bird strategy as we use more parts of the chicken, ultimately enabling us to buy whole chickens,” Morrison said.

Read more at usatoday.com

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