Restaurants hope inflation and supply chains won’t put the brakes on the Super Bowl | Trade

Bars and restaurants are hoping inflation and supply chain shortages won’t lead to trial and error and missed revenue opportunities on one of their busiest days of the year – Sunday of the Super Bowl.

The big National Football League game on Sunday, February 13 is big business for sports bars, restaurants, takeouts and grocery stores.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $14.6 billion on the next Super Bowl, or $78.92 per person. A survey by the group found that 90 million Americans plan to attend a Super Bowl party, up from 62.8 million last year, and 13.7 million plan to watch the game at a restaurant or club. bar.

But higher prices for chicken wings and popular seafood, as well as supply chain shortages for everything from enchilada sauce and cream cheese to imported beers and popular liquor brands , are problematic for restaurants, bars and grocery stores as they prepare for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

‘This is madness’

Wholesale prices for chicken wings, a staple item for football fans, have doubled – and in some cases tripled, according to bars and restaurants across the country.

Mike Quillen, president of Gecko’s Hospitality Group, which operates three seafood restaurants and six sports bars in southwest Florida, said he was spending $500,000 more on wings than before the coronavirus pandemic. .

“We’re just taking a dip in it,” Quillen said of the doubling of wholesale wing prices. “This is madness.”

Quillen attributes some of the increase in poultry to fast food restaurants (including McDonald’s) and other national chains adding wings and more chicken to their menus.

“I saw this coming over a year ago,” Quillen said.

The Florida restaurateur isn’t the only one challenged by rising wing prices.

According to the National Chicken Council, Americans are expected to eat 1.42 billion wings on Super Bowl Sunday.

“Getting chicken wings wasn’t difficult, but they’re incredibly expensive. Their price has more than doubled since “before COVID”, or before all the chickens froze to death in Texas with that bad storm they had. We used to pay $70 for a crate, and we were down to $180 for a while. It’s been down a bit since then, but it’s still incredibly high,” said Ryan Steny, owner of Steny’s Tavern, a Wisconsin restaurant in Milwaukee. “The worst thing is that most customers don’t understand and are so upset.”

Like a number of other restaurants, Steny charges market prices for wings, to accommodate higher and fluctuating prices. He’s asking $10 for six wings. He used to charge less than $1 per wing.

In Florida, some restaurants charge $18 for 10 wings below market price. In Tennessee, 20 wings can cost up to $26. In New York, a dozen wings cost $21.95.

Chicken wing prices are also on the rise at grocery stores, with retail prices ranging between $3 and $6 a pound ahead of big game.

Back in Wisconsin, rising wing prices led Steny to temporarily suspend a weekly Thursday night of wings, along with frustrated customers and lower tips.

“We had to get rid of the wing nights, and now it’s one of the slowest nights of the week for us. I used to schedule seven to eight servers on Thursdays, and now I can get away with three,” he said.

He brings back the night of wings to boost sales.

chicken wings price

Chicken wing prices are on the rise at grocery stores as Super Bowl Sunday approaches.

Menu changes, sea challenges

Restaurants must also weigh the costs and logistics of changing and increasing prices and determining if and how to adjust menus. Changing printed menus can also be costly, according to restaurateurs.

“As a restaurant, when you have a permanent menu that has prices, we can’t just change the prices on the fly as the market changes,” said Doug Baker, co-owner of Brixx Craft House in Boise, Idaho.

Baker said inflationary price changes are causing some restaurants to switch from printed menus to QR codes so they can display menus and websites on their smartphones. The Boise restaurant and bar is still considering switching to an online or QR code-based menu, he said.

Other restaurants are having to decide whether to drop items from menus altogether due to price hikes and shortages.

The National Chicken Council, an industry group representing poultry farmers, said Americans will consume 1.42 billion wings during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams. The demand for wings has increased in recent years. The same NCC report pegged demand for Super Bowl wings at 1.3 billion in 2016.

“Demand for chicken wings has skyrocketed since the pandemic began,” said Tom Super, senior vice president of the chicken group. “The shift from sit-down restaurants to take-out and quick service has boosted the consumption of chicken wings. Restaurants like wing joints and pizzerias have been built around takeout and delivery, and as long as people sit around watching TV, and maybe drinking a beer, wings will stay in the game. . »

Chicken wings aren’t the only popular menu items challenging restaurateurs and bars with higher prices.

Food prices rose 6.3% in the United States in 2021, with headline inflation up 7% – the biggest increase since 1982, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Seafood prices — for items such as lobster, scallops and grouper (a whitefish favorite in Florida) — have also risen significantly. Some items, including imported beers, popular liquor brands and even enchilada sauces, are also facing supply chain issues.

Market prices for grouper sandwiches and entrees in Florida restaurants are between $20 and $29 (up substantially from pre-pandemic levels).

“The scallops are getting very, very tight right now,” said Quillen, who has also seen a shortage of lobster and other items during the pandemic. “Crab meat – I probably haven’t had it in six months.”

He also found a troubling shortage of enchilada sauce that has been going on for several months. “We finally started making our own again. A lot of things don’t make sense,” he said.

Other restaurants are also struggling to get cream cheese used for appetizers and other recipes — including crab rangoons, jalapeno poppers and queso dips. These are also all popular Super Bowl items.

The recent cream cheese shortages stemmed from a cyberattack and ransomware program launched against a major Wisconsin supplier. Bars have also been challenged to stock some popular imported beer and liquor brands.

Football field

The National Retail Federation expects Americans to spend $14.6 billion on Super Bowl Sunday. This translates to $78.92 per person.

Economic and social snow globe

Supply chain and inflation problems can stem from everything from the products themselves and their packaging and labeling to shortages of workers to transport them from farms and ports to restaurants, grocery stores and consumers, said Victor Claar, economist at Florida Gulf Coast University.

COVID-related port closures in Asia have also impacted the supply and prices of certain products. There have been shortages of truck drivers and port workers, as well as restaurant and bar workers.

Help Wanted signs are also hung in bars, restaurants and grocery stores across the country as the seismic shifts of the pandemic impact labor pools.

In 2021, 68.3 million American workers left their jobs, and 47.4 million employees left their jobs, according to the BLS.

The number of job resignations was an all-time high, including 8.8 million workers who voluntarily quit their jobs in the last two months of 2021.

According to federal jobs data, 1.87 million restaurant, bar and other hotel workers and 2 million retail, wholesale and logistics workers gave up their jobs in November and December.

This leaves companies struggling to recruit staff and serve customers throughout the economic chain.

The leisure and hospitality industry lost 1.8 million jobs (or 10.3%) compared to before the pandemic hit in 2020, despite adding 151,000 jobs in January, according to the BLS.

Claar said workers are still dealing with lost jobs, employment, economic and social disruption from the COVID pandemic. An estimated 20.5 million jobs were lost in the United States at the start of the 2020 pandemic.

Many of these jobs were in restaurants, bars, retail stores and hotels. These same jobs often have lower wages, require vacation and weekend hours, and lack benefits. While white collar and tech workers have been able to work from home during the pandemic, blue collar and service workers have lost their jobs and had to continue working while navigating school closures and quarantines and daycares.

Claar said the upheavals have left workers – across all sectors – rethinking their career paths and job strains.

“The pandemic was so disruptive in March 2020. It’s kind of like we took the whole economy and shook it like a snow globe,” Claar said.

Victor Clair

Victor Clair

“It gave people time to reconsider things like their work-life balance and to spend time with their kids like never before.”

The Economist also expects to see plenty of people venturing out to sports bars and Super Bowl parties, even with the latest fears and warnings in some parts of the country about the omicron variant.

“It seems like people are trying to live their lives, and in some cases they can throw a Super Bowl party. People are a little more eager to go out to eat and interact with others,” Claar said.

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