This Mealtime Staple Is Disappearing from Restaurants Nationwide

You may not be able to order this the next time you go out to dinner.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, product shortages are becoming more and more common by the day. What began as a hoarding spree on toilet paper has moved on to cover everything from aged cheeses to pet food. But one everyday food staple is now running in such short supply that it's beginning to disappear from menus in restaurants nationwide. Read on to find out which mealtime must-have is the latest product to become scarce, and for more on what else is missing from the kitchen, This Beloved Summer Food Is Disappearing From Stores and Restaurants.

There's a nationwide chicken shortage affecting restaurants across the U.S.

fried chicken breasts, ketchup, basil
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Thanks to yet another supply chain disruption, you may not be able to wing it the next time you sit down for a meal. Restaurants across the U.S. are reporting that they can't keep chicken products in stock thanks to a new surge in demand, meaning wings, breasts, and tenders temporarily go offline from some menus, Bloomberg News reports.

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A combination of COVID and severe storms has disrupted chicken supplies.

Chickens standing inside a poultry farm
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Industry experts point out that COVID-19 deeply affected production capabilities, as poultry processing plants were closed due to labor shortages and safety concerns during the pandemic. The issues were then made worse by severe weather in major poultry-producing states that shuttered farms and disrupted the supply chain even further.

"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," Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, told Delmarva Now, stopping short of calling it an outright shortage. "It will take time and effort to eventually replace the impacted hatchery supply flocks in that region." And for more on major food changes, This One Thing Is Disappearing From Walmarts Nationwide.

Major fast-food chains have already felt the supply chain disruption.

kentucky fried chicken
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As a result, major national chains have felt the pinch when it comes to their menus. In response to a customer's complaint that North Carolina-based fried chicken chain Bojangles had run out of tenders, the company tweeted: "we're experiencing a system-wide shortage 🙁 But they will be back soon!"

Other industry experts point out the sudden boom in popularity of fried chicken sandwiches at fast-food chains in the past two years has put added strain on supplies—with chicken-focused chains such as Chick-fil-A and KFC experiencing a surge in sales even through the pandemic. During a recent earnings call, Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald's USA, reported that the chain's chicken products are selling "beyond expectations."

"Demand for the new sandwich has been so strong that, coupled with general tightening in domestic chicken supply, our main challenge has been keeping up with that demand," David Gibbs, CEO of KFC parent company Yum! Brands Inc., said recently in a conference call, according to Bloomberg News.

Smaller restaurants are also being affected by chicken shortages.

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But it's not just the big players who are suffering from the shortage. Small businesses also report that higher chicken prices are affecting their bottom line and that their suppliers can't meet demand. "We're getting about two-thirds of what we'd typically order and there's some days our food reps will call us and they say, 'We might not be able to get you anything,'" Jeff Feather, manager of Duff's Famous Wings in Buffalo, New York, told CBS Newspath correspondent Michael George.

Fortunately, it may not be long before poultry supplies hatch anew. "As chicken production begins to resume back to a more normal pace of output in the coming months, and there is a better supply/demand ratio, the market tightness should ease," Super predicted. And for more items that might go missing from your refrigerator, These 4 Beloved Foods Are Disappearing From Grocery Shelves, Experts Warn.

Zachary Mack
Zachary covers beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He's the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in New York City and is a Certified Cicerone. Read more
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