Boneless vs. Bone-in Chicken Wing Servings:  Study Reveals Which is Favorite of Consumers

It’s that time of year, when sports enthusiasts and fellow travelers in North America hunker down indoors to watch games on television and eat chicken wings. Just as fans choose a team, wing enthusiasts choose their preferred type of chicken wing, either bone-in or boneless. With 45% of the USA population ordering chicken wings at restaurants and foodservice outlets, and servings on the rise, it behooves operators to know who is on team bone-in and who is on team boneless.

Bone-in is the most popular type of chicken wing is, according to results published in a new study conducted by the Port Washington, New York-headquartered NPD Group entitled The Chicken Wing Dilemma. Over 60% of wings served at restaurants are bone-in. Further, over the past year, servings of bone-in were up 6%, while declining by a similar rate for boneless.

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The study, which is based on data gathered by the market research company’s checkout consumer receipt monitoring service, examines the purchase patterns of wing buyers and how restaurant operators react to fluctuating wing prices. Wing prices increased during the summer while the demand remained high but prices declined over the past three months. Boneless wings are more heavily promoted over bone-in wings when prices are high.

“Foodservice operators and suppliers offering chicken wings need to understand purchase patterns of wing buyers in order to menu appropriately, price accordingly, and tailor marketing to grow in the headwinds of price increases,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “Most wing buyers aren’t fair weather fans. They are super fans who stick with one type of wing regardless of price.”