Just how much do convenience-store shoppers love their wings? In c-stores, bone-in wings are the No. 1 category, growing 9.4% in the last year, according to Supply Track, VA Chicken, July ’17 – June ’19. Additionally, fully cooked wings grew 4.2% in c-stores from 2017 to June 2019, making this foodservice trend an area of opportunity for retailers.
As a handheld protein that doubles as a snack or lunch/dinner, chicken wings are versatile at a time when versatility matters. With consumers increasingly replacing meals with snacks, retailers can provide solutions with wings sold in various package sizes. For instance, at Casey’s General Stores, Inc., customers could indulge in the chain’s recent LTO of Buffalo Wings, sold for 50 cents apiece in 10- or 20-piece combos. C-stores can also promote larger portions or buckets of wings for entertaining, during tailgate season, Super Bowl, holidays or other times of the year when gatherings are popular.
One reason for chicken wings’ continued popularity might be because wings lend themselves to innovation in flavor and format—another important driver of consumer cravings and another important opportunity for retailers to generate more interest and sales.
Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report found that 44% of consumers report that they’d like to try chicken offerings made with new or unique flavors or sauces. That number jumps to 50% in the key demographic of shoppers between the ages of 18- and 34-years-old.
One convenient and easy way for retailers to deliver flavors to consumers is through wing sauces. Spicy varieties already resonate well with customers: Wing Zings from Pierce Chicken, for example, are the No. 1 best-selling breaded bone-in wings in c-stores, and in foodservice overall.
While mainstays such as ranch, teriyaki and barbecue still top the list of sauces paired with chicken wings, the fastest-growing sauces include honey-chipotle, chili garlic, chipotle buffalo, garlic barbecue, chipotle barbecue, garlic parmesan, spicy barbecue and sweet Thai chili, according to Technomic’s Q32018 Chicken Wing Menu Trends Report. That report also revealed a 9.3% jump in demand for spicy flavors paired with chicken wings, along with a 2.9% in both Thai-flavored and chili-flavored wings on menus.
C-stores can consider ethnically inspired sauces to appeal to shoppers, as more people are embracing Latin American flavors for chicken and also are influenced by Asian and Middle Eastern fare. Technomic’s 2017 Flavor Consumer Trend Report underscores the interest in ethnic foods among younger consumers, who are receptive to ethnic sauces and spicy profiles such as chipotle and sriracha.
C-store foodservice can take a cue from these trends and expand wing lineups to include wings paired or made with different sauces and seasonings, whether on special or added to daily offerings. Experiment with additions such as sweet-hot chili sauce, adobo sauce or masala sauce. Bold regional flavors also provide a point of difference, whether it’s Nashville Hot, spicy barbecue or Cajun.
As consumers are continually on the lookout for new snacking options that are also familiar and satisfy their cravings, there are ways to spotlight wings in other dishes, too. A boneless wing po’ boy sandwich with spicy Cajun seasoning is one example. Another option could be a poutine made with boneless wings, savory chicken gravy, fries and cheese curds, which can be merchandised in a grab-and-go bowl.
Pierce Chicken offers several choices for consumers seeking high-protein, snackable, portable and appetizing wings. In addition to the best-selling bone-in Wing Zings, Pierce’s Dip’n Chik’n Savory Wings can be paired with any number of sauces, added by the retailer or by the consumer via dipping cups. To satisfy cravings for boneless wings, Pierce’s Boneless Dings, Boneless Zings and Dip’n Chick’n Naked Boneless Wings can be teamed with a range of sauces or used as a featured ingredient in bowls, wraps or sandwiches.
To get more inspiration for boldly flavored chicken wing offerings, perfect for snacks, visit http://www.piercechicken.com/products/wings/.
This post is sponsored by Pierce Chicken