I don’t watch much television, so I haven’t seen a lot of commercials lately. But if you watch sports or keep up with the Bachelorverse, maybe you’ve noticed that KFC’s not currently advertising its chicken tenders in the United States, a decision it’s had to make due to supply chain issues.
While there’s no danger of KFC running out of tenders at the moment, the chain is only just managing to keep up with demand. If it heavily promoted the product, it likely wouldn’t be able to handle the resulting sales spikes.
Instead, KFC is choosing to heap that extra attention onto other products. President of KFC, Kevin Hochman said in an interview with Bloomberg, “In terms of advertising and promotion we’re going to focus on things we have abundant quantities of.” Bone-in chicken is more readily available than the tenders, so there are no issues with KFC’s classic menu staple, at least.
Chicken tenders, specifically, involve more processing and are more labor intensive to produce. So any supply issues or delays affect tenders disproportionately.
Overall, chicken’s been on a bumpy ride starting from last year. We’re still not quite sure who’s ordering just chicken wings, but it’s caused other chains to change their approach. For example, Wingstop has now added meatier thighs to its menu permanently, which will probably be a small relief in demand for wings across the chain’s franchises.
Of course, some places are trying to get creative by replacing wings with completely new options. One restaurant chain, Florida-based Hurricane Grill & Wings, tried selling “pork wings,” which are pig shanks customized for dipping. Pasqually’s, the more “adult” virtual concept from Chuck E. Cheese’s, has also supplemented its menu with meatballs specifically made for dunking, according to a press release.
Full disclosure: I tried the meatball dunkers. Meatballs are a much less tactile version of chicken wings and, in my opinion, hit a different craving altogether.
This all goes to show that these chicken issues are far from over, and restaurants will be feeling the pain for a long time to come. Of course, if you think chicken isn’t easy to prepare at home, you could always just plop one in your air fryer and call it a day.