Poultry is scarce, which is why restaurants are battling a shortage of chicken this year.
Record-breaking winter storms in the south-central United States were behind the issue. The pandemic’s high demand has also dampened the supply of favorite products such as chicken wings.
Small Business Trends reached out to restaurateurs to find out how they’re dealing with the chicken shortage.
At least one is down the familiar path that small businesses resort to when supply levels are low.
Restaurants are dealing with an ongoing shortage of chicken
“Right now, we have to raise prices,” says Sean Kim, partial owner of Holdaak in California. “Pretty much all menu items include some form of chicken.”
They are also looking to modify their stock from the source.
“We have had numerous meetings with new suppliers as well. We have changed our main suppliers twice since the start of COVID.”
Kim adds that his suppliers tell him they hope things will return to normal within a few months.
Other restaurants decided to switch. Laurie Bogden, the chef and culinary expert who runs TwigsCafe, explains.
“Some restaurants have made changes to their menu,” she says. “They are selling other types of meat or chicken alternatives to meet the increasing demands.”
Even with the changes, Bogden says some places are running red.
“The chicken shortage has caused many businesses to lose because they are selling at discount prices,” she says.
Unfortunately, there is a deeper bottom for some.
“Because of the shortage, the famous restaurant chain Nando’s had to close 45 of its outlets,” Bogden adds.
She notes other estimates and observations, “About 10% of restaurants have halted operations. This is due to the combined effect of the epidemic and the shortage of chicken.”
Some people in the industry are focusing more on issues related to the pandemic. Kirk Vogel, president and owner of Walnut Grill Restaurant Group, explains.
“We’ve had a lot of issues with chickens, mainly because of COVID,” he explains. “Factories have been closed for safety reasons or because there are not enough employees.”
Vogel also says his suppliers are telling him that the shortage will continue into the fourth quarter with rest only in the spring of 2022.
“Even that depends on whether the factories are operating at full capacity to provide enough product,” he says.
Finally, size appears to be important when dealing with an ongoing shortage of chicken.
Duffy’s Sports Grill is the largest family owned and operated restaurant group in Florida. A spokesperson for the chain reported that they were only able to provide the chicken wings with some issues.
Part of Duffy’s success is getting the most from relationships with local sellers, says Garrett Foster of Pinnacle Advertising. The result was just a slight increase in prices for customers.
“While prices are nearly double (for everyone), Duffy’s has raised their prices slightly,” he says.
Regarding the chicken shortage, the end may not be in sight any time soon. Bogden says the suppliers have not made any statements about when they think it will end.
“Most of them agree that it will be some time before supply can meet demand,” she says.