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A Chicken Tender Shortage May Soon Hit Grocers and Fast-Food Chains, Reports Say

Is it time to stock up on this beloved family food?
FACT CHECKED BY Joseph Neese

This year has proven to be a wild ride for chicken lovers. The ongoing chicken sandwich wars are far from over, with more fast-food chains introducing their takes on the ever-popular meal. Meanwhile, Costco and other grocery stores have faced shortages of items like chicken nuggets amid heightened demand and widespread supply chain problems hastened by the pandemic.

Though President Joe Biden and the federal government are getting involved, one beloved family food may soon be in short supply. If you have kids, your household freezer is likely typically be stocked with chicken nuggets or tenders. While they may seem similar, nuggets are made from scrap meat, whereas tenders are made from tenderloins. If you prefer the latter, listen up.

Related: Supply of These 2 Grocery Items Is Dwindling, Reports Say

"Americans are expected to eat 100 pounds of chicken per person this year," NBC News' Kerry Sanders reported on the Dec. 2 broadcast of The Today Show. "Tenders require more processing to package and sell, which industry experts say is part of the reason why they can be harder to find and now more costly when you get them in your local market."

Value packs of tenders cost an average of $3.99 a pound right now, which represents an increase of almost $1 from last year, according to Sanders' report.

However, fears that chicken tenders are flying the coop aren't exactly new. National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super told USA Today in May that there was a "very tight supply" of this in-demand food. At the same time, Tyson—the world's second-largest processor of chicken—said high demand was partially to blame for a nationwide chicken shortage, tenders included.

And it's not just grocery stores that may be impacted by a potential shortage of chicken tenders. In September, KFC made the decision to pause showing chicken tenders in advertisements. "On chicken tenders, we have enough to supply demand, but we would love to have more to be able to aggressively promote it on TV," KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman told Bloomberg's Leslie Patton that month. "In terms of advertising and promotion, we're going to focus on things we have abundant quantities of" such as bone-in chicken.

Fast-food chains are already paying higher prices to keep their freezers stocked. That raises the possibility that surcharges could be passed along to hungry customers.

For more on what's happening at your neighborhood supermarket, check out:

Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda