According to recently released data from GuestMetrics, based on its POS database, boneless chicken wings continued to make significant inroads in the chicken wing category in during the first quarter of 2013.

According to Bill Pecoriello, CEO of GuestMetrics LLC, overall chicken sales experienced sales growth of about 4 percent during Q1, with chicken wings being one of the top gainers in share in full-service restaurants.

"While 4 percent is a strong growth figure considering overall sluggish YTD growth in restaurants, the number of chicken wing dishes ordered in the full-service restaurants we track were actually down 5 percent, as consumers scaled back in the face of chicken wing pricing being up around 9 percent compared to the prior year," he said.

The category bright spot is boneless chicken wings, which increased overall share from 7 percent of total wing sales in 2011 to 13 percent in 2012 and 16 percent in Q1 2013.

"As we wrote about shortly before the Super Bowl, there is a fairly rapid shift taking place within the chicken wing category as boneless chicken wings take significant share of the category at the expense of bone-in chicken wings," said Peter Reidhead, vice president of Strategy and Insights at GuestMetrics.

Based on data from GuestMetrics, while boneless chicken wings grew sales more than 65 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period from the prior year, bone-in chicken wing sales contracted over 3 percent, netting out in the overall growth of 4 percent for the chicken wing category.

"Interestingly, while chicken wing wholesale prices peaked in January of this year and have since come down about 40 percent, chicken wing pricing in our on-premise universe continued to rise materially during the first 3 months of 2013, suggesting pricing in on-premise is lagged by at least a couple months from bulk pricing," Pecoriello said. "However, looking at average chicken wing pricing in our universe in April, it did moderate quite a bit from March, so as we head further into Q2, we'll be closely monitoring the impact of lower prices on demand."

Based on data from GuestMetrics, average chicken wing prices increased from $4.32 in January to $4.57 in February, peaked in March at $4.64, and have since moderated to $4.32 in April.

Read more about menu trends.

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