Still, wing meat is in high demand and while it doesn't take as long to raise a chicken as it does say cattle, demand for the excess chicken could be challenging.
"If it's successful, McDonald's wing rollout would likely impact wing chains," says Mary Chapman, director of product innovation at Technomic. "Chicken wings are already in greater demand than the rest of the chicken. And as demand goes up, prices go up. A large chain like McDonald's has greater purchasing power than smaller chains, so it wouldn't suffer as much if chicken prices went up. Smaller chains would see more of a cost increase and/or limited supply."
Chapman adds that it also means that the rest of the chicken is available to be -- for better or worse -- processed, "so we may see an increase in boneless wings and strips on menus," she says.
The question is: will there be enough chicken demand to offset the wing purchases that McDonald's makes and has there been enough time to raise chickens to feed into the wing selling season?Andy Wiederhorn, CEO of Buffalo's Cafe and the famous Fatburger chain has concerns. "Wings are very price sensitive," he says. "It's a hot commodity with limited supply today." Buffalo's Cafe, with 25 locations in the U.S. and plans for about three dozen co-branded stores with Fatburger in the works, already offers bone-in and boneless wing menu items. While Wiederhorn doesn't plan to make any changes as a result of McDonald's wings launch, expanding the boneless offerings in the future could be a possibility if supply becomes too pricey or limited, he says. Still, franchisors say the attention McDonald's is giving to chicken wings is good for the industry. Wing franchisors are confident that the large assortment of choice as well as quality means the competition will be minimal from McDonald's. "Wings are a specialty item," Wiederhorn says. "It's a positive for those of us who sells wings [because it] draws more attention to the space and creates more awareness [of the] different options and to buy wings in different restaurants."
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