McDonald’s expands test flight for chicken wings

NEW YORK — First there were McNuggets. Then there were Chicken McBites. Now McDonald’s could be adding “Mighty Wings” to its chicken menu.

The world’s biggest hamburger chain is set to expand its test of chicken wings to Chicago this week, after a successful run in Atlanta last year. The wings are expected to be sold in three, five or 10 pieces with prices likely starting at $3, according to Lynne Collier, an analyst with Sterne Agee.

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s confirmed the test in Chicago would start this week but said there weren’t any plans yet to bring the wings to other cities. Fast-food chains typically test items in select markets before taking them national. But for McDonald’s, which has 14,000 U.S. locations, adding chicken wings to the permanent lineup could be tricky.

Prices for chicken wings have been climbing over the past year, reflecting an increase in the number of restaurants serving them, said David Harvey, an agriculture economist who specializes in poultry and eggs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In December, the cost of wings in the wholesale market in the Northeast was 26 percent higher than a year ago. Wings sold for $1.90 a pound that month, compared with $1.30 a pound for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

And prices could continue to climb with demand remaining high.

Rather than becoming a permanent part of the menu, McDonald’s could offer the dish for a limited time; the chain has said it plans to ramp up the frequency of such special offers as a way to give customers more variety. But whether it will offer “Mighty Wings” even on a limited-time basis will likely depend on McDonald’s ability to get wings at reasonable prices, said Collier, the analyst with Sterne Agee.

The test comes amid intensifying competition for McDonald’s, which for years had outperformed rivals such as Burger King and Wendy’s with a steady stream of new menu items, such as snack wraps, fruit smoothies and specialty coffee drinks. But now Burger King and Wendy’s are working to revamp their images and menus.

This past spring, Burger King launched its biggest ever menu expansion to include its own snack wraps, fruit smoothies and specialty coffee drinks. And last week, the Miami-based chain even introduced chicken nuggets that more closely resemble McNuggets, replacing the chicken tenders it previously sold.

In addition, McDonald’s is facing competition from newer chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Panera Bread Co., which serve higher-quality food for slightly higher prices. In October, McDonald’s said a key sales figure dropped for the first time in nearly a decade. The figure rebounded in November after McDonald’s said it would return to emphasizing its Dollar Menu to lure price-conscious diners.

More in Herald Business Journal

Health-care consumers need to take the lead, so get smart

David Russian, CEO of Western Washington Medical Group, writes our third essay about fixing health care.

More business, more competition for Everett kidney dialysis center

Nonprofit Puget Sound Kidney Centers sees large for-profit competitors enter state market.

Molina Medical holds fall carnival for families in Everett

Molina Medical is hosting a free event for families in the Everett… Continue reading

Leadership Snohomish County celebrates 20 years of service

Leadership Snohomish County is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The organization was launched… Continue reading

Snohomish, Monroe manufacturers honored for innovation, excellence

Two Snohomish County companies have been honored with Manufacturing Excellence awards at… Continue reading

Remodeled home tours planned this weekend

This weekend, Edmonds-based Chermak Construction will participate in the 2017 Remodeled Homes… Continue reading

Barron Heating to celebrate anniversary at Marysville showroom

Barron Heating and Air Conditioning is celebrating its 45th anniversary from 10… Continue reading

Robots on Wall Street: Slow-footed regulators lose ground

Watchdogs have to figure out how to check computers running lightening-fast algorithms.

US budget deficit hits $666B, an $80B spike for the year

The deficit issue has largely fallen in prominence in Washington in recent years.

Most Read