WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — A nationwide labor shortage is impacting every part of the supply chain.
The price of meat skyrocketed after the pandemic. Now customers are paying at least 6 dollars more for products like chicken wings. The root of the problem? Not enough people on the assembly line.
The cost of meat is skyrocketing, and it’s changing the way local restaurants do business.
“More restaurants are taking action now to actually cover themselves because they can’t keep just losing on it. It’s pretty much like they’re paying people to come in and eat them,” said Scott Stuchkus, the general manager of the Chicken Coop.
Stuchkus says he watched the price of chicken wings rise over the past six months. Recently he had to put a sign on the door, warning customers how it might affect their bill.
Pre-pandemic, Chicken Coop sold a dozen wings for $9.99, now they have to charge $15.99
“Wings are up about 20 to 30 percent since the beginning of the year,” said Joe Fasula, the co-owner of Gerrity’s supermarket.
Fasula, says of the chicken products, wings have gone up the most. Many restaurants are taking them off the menu temporarily. Beef and pork are up by a dollar a pound or more.
Fasula says the biggest factor is the labor issue.
“The plants that produce these products are understaffed which means they have to pay more for the labor they have, but they don’t have enough labor to put out the output where the demand is trying to pull it from,” stated Fasula.
He says that’s why we’re seeing it in products that require more work on the assembly line, like chicken wings and ground beef.
Gerrity’s and the Chicken Coop are dealing with their own staffing issues, in addition to the rise in prices. Offering incentives for new and existing employees.
Stuchkus says for the foreseeable future, the chicken coop will sell wings at market value. He hopes the price goes back down before football season.
“Chicken wings are one of the most popular items in America, and if they never go down it’s going to be a thing like eating shrimp or eating crab legs, you’re just going to have to accept if you want them you have to pay for them,” said Stuchkus.
According to the USDA, chicken wing prices were $2.72 per pound last week. Stuchkus says the price of cooking oil has gone up as well.