Boneless wings take flight

Pierce boneless wings

From Pierce Chicken.

Spicy chicken wings have taken off as an iconic American food since their debut at the Anchor Bar Restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1964. They reached a new milestone during Super Bowl 50 weekend in February, when more than 1.3 billion wings were consumed, according to the National Chicken Council.

The emergence of boneless wings—breaded, boneless chunks of chicken breast with zesty flavors—has made a good thing even better. In fact, research shows that boneless wings complement traditional bone-in wings on restaurant menus, boosting the entire wing category. Thus operators who menu only bone-in wings would profit from adding the boneless variety. And those who already have boneless on the menu can boost overall sales by promoting them.

Actually, more than half of consumers in a recent online survey by Pierce Chicken said they prefer boneless chicken wings over bone-in wings. That contrasts with NPD CREST data which found that 64% of the wing orders in commercial foodservice in the last four quarters were for bone-in wings.

“That represents a real opportunity for restaurant operators,” says Keith Arnold, head of marketing for Pierce Chicken. “There’s a lot of room to grow boneless wing sales, and the good news is there are a number of things operators can do to tap into that opportunity.”

Although there is a perception that male consumers prefer bone-in wings by a wide margin, in reality, 56% of men surveyed said they prefer boneless wings, as did 54% of women. Thus both genders clearly want the boneless option.

The reasons consumers give for choosing bone-in wings include “they are more natural,” “I like getting messy,” “that’s what a real man eats” and “even though they are messier and more difficult to eat, they have more flavor.”

Not surprisingly, boneless wings appeal for different reasons. Included are “they are easier to eat and less messy,” “more meat on boneless wings” and “less waste.”

Arnold has found that a very significant trend happens when operators add boneless wings to the menu—overall wing category sales rise 20-30%. “Boneless wings on the menu allow wing fanatics to indulge even when they don’t want to deal with the mess,” says Arnold. “But they also appeal to consumers who don’t normally eat wings.”

The research also shows that parties with kids are more likely to order boneless wings, especially when the kids are six years old or younger. Adding boneless wings, which are made of whole muscle chicken breast, to the kids’ menu can be an upsell over traditional chicken nuggets. And including boneless wings with family meal deals in another way to increase check averages.

When it comes to promoting boneless wings, Arnold says signage and menu descriptions should emphasize flavor, tenderness and juiciness—all key sales drivers. The sauces available also are important. Offering patrons a choice of flavorful sauces will enhance the appeal of boneless wings and help operators get the most out of the wing category.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
spicy bibimbop

Bowls continue to trend as meal carriers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Both operators and the guests they feed appreciate bowls for their convenience, customizability and creative combinations. Build-your-own stations are increasingly popular ways to offer bowls in college dining, corporate venues and school and hospital cafeterias. But building a satisfying bowl takes more planning than randomly tossing ingredients together in one vessel.

Playing with layering

“Texture is the secret ingredient for a successful bowl,” says Kevin Cecilio, senior director of culinary innovations...

Industry News & Opinion

Austin Independent School District in Texas is introducing new globally influenced menu items this school year, Spectrum News reports.

The offerings are meant to reflect the district’s diverse student body and will include yuca fries, Jamaican meat pies and plantains.

Read the full story via spectrumlocalnews.com .

Industry News & Opinion

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is introducing new plant-based menu items this school year, CBS Miami reports.

Vegan chili and cilantro-lime rice will be appearing on menus when students at the Miami district return to class later this month.

The new plant-based offerings join other new items such as French toast, turkey bacon and antibiotic-free chicken tenders and breast fillets. Students will also be able to enjoy a variety of salads and fresh fruit.

Read the full story via miami.cbslocal.com .

Ideas and Innovation
baby boomer eating

Millennials get a lot of attention from foodservice operators and chefs, but baby boomers make up a large and lucrative group of potential patrons that shouldn’t be ignored, finds Technomic’s 2018 Generational Consumer Trend Report . As more senior-living communities cater to the baby boomer set , here’s a look at the factors that drive those customers’ dining choices.

1. Boomers are flavor-seekers

There’s a perception that because these consumers are older, they are stuck in their ways. But this generation is the most likely to say that they enjoy trying new flavors from time to...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code