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Love and marriage. America and apple pie. Chicken wings and Super Bowl Sunday.
Has there ever been a more perfect combination of sports and snacks than the chicken wing/football combination we will experience this weekend?
I say, nay.
The Obama administration however, has somehow managed to dampen the excitement of this year's Super Bowl, by causing small businesses to panic over chicken wing supply while simultaneously raising market prices to record highs.
According to Bill Roenigk of the National Chicken Council, dueling factors have contributed to concerns of a chicken wing shortage, one natural and one governmental:
“Corn makes up more than two-thirds of chicken feed and corn prices hit an all-time high in 2012, due to two reasons: last summer’s drought and pressure from a federal government requirement that mandates 40 percent of our corn crop be turned into fuel in the form of ethanol. Simply put, less corn equals higher feed costs, which means fewer birds produced.”
The mandate to which Roenigk is referring is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS has, prior to the chicken wing crisis, been the subject of widespread criticism for driving up corn and animal-feed prices in the middle of a drought by forcing farmers to meet ethanol quotas. This in turn, creates higher food costs for the consumer. Former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO) referred to the standard as "one of the worst and most costly boondoggles ever foisted on the American public."
And now it's being foisted on one of America's favorite pastimes.
While we don't anticipate a shortage in the traditional sense that people will be banging on the doors of their local pubs, begging for just one last bite of the "Sweet and Sticky" recipe, it has translated into a tangible drop in estimated wing consumption for this year's championship game. Estimates have roughly 12.3 million fewer wings being downed this year over last.
Worse, those same factors have contributed to record high costs for Americans at the grocery store.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle writes:
"Chicken wing prices typically increase around the Super Bowl, but this year the ballgame favorite has reached a record high."
"Wholesale wings are currently at about $2.11 a pound (Northeast), the highest on record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, up 26 cents or 14 percent from a year earlier, according to The National Chicken Council."
Supply and cost shortages may have little effect on national chains, but local restaurants will have to be resourceful when meeting customer demand this weekend.
Ed Cooper owns a wing shop in Georgia, and he explains that while his situation is secure, small businesses might struggle.
"We have our wings locked in for the year and that’s because we are a national franchise," he said. "Smaller mom-and-pop stores have to do their homework. They have to hunt around for wings."
A WSBTV report adds:
"That hunt can mean higher prices. Nationally, they’re up 14 percent."
Desperation for supplies however, may never have been more apparent than this report out of Georgia earlier in the week:
Police say two storage warehouse workers stole $65,000 worth of chicken wings.
Gwinnett County police investigators said they believe Dewayne Patterson and Renaldo Jackson used a rental truck on Jan. 12 and took 10 pallets of frozen wings from Nordic Cold Storage.
The theft comes at a time when demand and prices for chicken wings are at the highest.
While most people won't resort to stealing thousands of dollars in chicken wings, Americans in general do agree that the policies leading to higher food prices are hurting families and businesses alike.
The PJ Tatler reports:
"According to Gallup, nearly 76% of Americans say higher food prices are hurting their family’s finances, and this year’s Super Bowl festivities will be the latest manifestation of that fact. Prices are only estimated to get even higher. Converting 40% of our animal feed to gasoline because of the renewable fuel standard is not helping consumers or their pocketbooks, as misguided energy policies continue to “peck” away at our recovery."
In short, Super Bowl parties across America may get a little roughed up on both sides of the field this weekend - price and supply. Will somebody in the Obama administration finally throw a flag on these stifling mandates? Or will rising food prices continue to leave a fowl taste in our mouths for the next four years?
Follow Rusty on Twitter @rustyweiss74