It seems that the only thing in plentiful supply during the age of supply-chain issues are more supply-chain issues. After Americans have been dealt blows with reduced quantities of chicken wings, cars, and even Christmas trees, they’re now faced with the looming threat of not being able to enjoy chicken tenders.
According to Food & Wine, the delicious breaded poultry dish found at fast food locations and your finer college bars is in danger of drying up.
The issue is mostly attributable to preparation. Unless they’re being made from scratch—an unlikely prospect at your local KFC—making tenders is more labor-intensive at factories than other varieties of chicken. Chicken processing plants are experiencing labor shortages, making a tender turnaround time more problematic—and expensive. Tender prices have gone up to $3.98 per pound, up from $3.44 last year.
The tender debacle is serious enough that KFC even limited their advertising push for the item earlier this year, not wanting to cause more demand than their supply could accommodate. In an even bolder step, McDonald’s has taken chicken tenders off their menu entirely.
But not all chicken experts agree it’s time to worry. “There is no chicken tender shortage,” Tom Super, senior vice president of communications at the National Chicken Council told USA Today. (Yes, there is a National Chicken Council.) “Like almost all goods right now, supplies are somewhat tight, but I would say it falls short of any 'shortage.' Like almost anything right now, some products might take longer than usual to get to where they need to be, but in most cases they get there.”
Is the National Chicken Council just trying to avoid tender hysteria and tender hoarding? It’s too soon to say. Right now, consider yourself fortunate if you’re able to grab a basket.
[H/t Food & Wine]