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Beef Prices Spike; Wing Sales Soar

In last week's column about burger glut, we reported on impending price hikes and the shortage of beef:

[T]he price of beef is

expected to rise, says Brendan Flanagan

of Grand Western Meats, a meat supplier that distributes to high-end

restaurants and shops such as Smitty's Old Fashioned Butcher Shop.

Cattle-ranching tapered at the peak of the recession, he says. And since

it takes three years to raise a calf, we're seeing the effects now:

Herd numbers are lower than they've been since the '50s. The result will

be an increase in the price of beef, an estimated 12 percent this year

and 7 percent next. So much for the cheap burger.

Yesterday's finding of mad cow complicates things further, with the first case identified in the U.S. since 2006.

Mad cow findings will exacerbate angst about beef that's already in short supply. In just a day, U.S. meat is being pulled from shelves in Korea, for example. And then there's the price. At $5.29 a pound, up from $3.99 in January 2011 -- as reported in the Palm Beach Post today, "Shrinking Supplies Push Beef to All-Time Highs" -- there's incentive to defect from ground beef altogether.

In the meantime, there will be wings. And they're selling fast. Buffalo

Wild Wings -- with two stores in the Miami region -- reports a 40 percent increase

in revenue in the first quarter of 2012 that ended March 25, reports Nation's Restaurant News. Brisk sales remain in the second quarter, despite that chicken-wing football season has

blown by.

Though there's some speculation that tighter marketing

strategies by chains such as Wingstop and Wing Zone have resulted in

higher sales of wings overall, perhaps burger fatigue and the price of beef result in higher wing sales.

Clean Plate Charlie has contacted marketing folks at Florida Hooters to find out the skinny on local trends for follow-up.

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart

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