Fried chicken sandwich wars partly to blame for nationwide chicken shortage

chicken sandwich
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The time to finally try the various fried chicken sandwiches that have dominated the food world over the past year is now.

While reporting earnings this past week, top chicken company executives from KFC to Wingstop discussed their role in a chicken shortage that is impacting restaurants nationwide, Fox Business reports.

The shortage is mainly due to a meat-processing slowdown caused by coronavirus safety regulations, as well as a recent surge in demand for chicken as more fast-food chains add the beloved sandwiches to their menu.

"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 Yum Brands, said Wednesday on a conference call with investors.

KFC, which is owned by Yum Brands, rolled out a new fried chicken sandwich in January.

Wingstop, a Dallas-based company also noted the shortage this week, attributing it to suppliers who are struggling to hire new workers to meet the demand, the outlet reports.

"Suppliers are struggling, just as many in our industry are, to hire people to process chicken, thus placing unexpected pressure on the amount of birds that can be processed and negatively affecting supply of all parts of the chicken in the U.S., not just wings," Wingstop CEO Charles Morrison said Thursday.

He added, "Until we see a marked change in the availability of labor for poultry producers, a labor shortage that we believe is largely fueled by the amount of government stimulus, we anticipate that wing prices could remain elevated for the balance of 2021.”

Tom Super of the National Chicken Council said that it's not quite a "shortage," but that the winter storm that swept through Texas earlier this year has contributed to a tighter chicken supply.