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Chicken Wars Depleting World Supply of Little Chickens

by Richard A Reagan

If you read this website, odds are that you’re a fan of Chick-fil-A. The restaurant chain, know for its tasty chicken, humorous advertisements, and unwillingness to open on Sundays, is a favorite among conservatives. But other fast food chains are trying to muscle in on Chick-fil-A’s turf and replicate its success. They don’t understand that the taste of the food is only one of the reasons so many people like Chick-fil-A, but they’re still dead set on trying to create a better tasting chicken sandwich.

That war among the various chains is good news for consumers, who will soon have a lot more options to choose from. That is, if the chains can get their hands on chicken to make their sandwiches. The meat used in these sandwiches is a whole breast from a small chicken. But because chicken producers have bred chickens to be nearly triple the size they were 100 years ago, most chicken breasts are too large for restaurant sandwiches. And those large breasts are often dry and tough when cooked. The ensuing competition for small-breasted chickens has led to supply shortages around the country.

Many may remember Popeye’s attempts at bringing out a new chicken sandwich. People lined up out the door to try the new sandwich, there were numerous fistfights as restaurants ran out of sandwiches, and reviews were generally quite positive. But Popeye’s couldn’t offer the chicken sandwich as a regular menu item because the company couldn’t source enough of the small chicken breasts it needed. Right now every company out there wants those small chicken breasts, but there isn’t enough supply to go around.

While consumers may get more choices when it comes to chicken sandwiches, let’s hope that doesn’t come to mean higher prices due to the competition for the same small supply of small chickens. But we might hold out hope that increased demand for smaller chickens will also carry over to the consumer market, giving those of us looking to create our own chicken sandwiches at home the ability to benefit from smaller, juicier, more tender chickens.

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