Supply Chain Threatens Chicken Tenders And Parents Everywhere Sob

by Julie Scagell
Chicken tenders with fries and dip on the side served on a white plate
Linda Hughes Photography/Shutterstock

The pandemic is now coming for our chicken tenders, parents

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the supply chain of everything from lumber to automobiles, electronics, and household goods. But nowhere are alarm bells going off louder than in homes with young children because — and I really regret having to say this — chicken tenders may be the latest victim.

Yes, one of the three foods your children will eat — the glorious chicken tender — is being impacted by supply chain issues, and will not only be harder to find but also more expensive when you do come across them. According to a report by NBC News, chicken tenders require more processing and packaging to sell, so they are being negatively impacted by goods and services seeing shortages, including labor and materials.

“Americans are expected to eat 100 pounds of chicken per person this year,” Kerry Sanders told The Today Show on Dec. 2. “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.”

The price, according to USA Today, has already gone up to $3.54 a pound this week from $3.44 a pound at the same time last year. Last week, the price went up to $3.98 a pound.

The reasons for the increase in price depends on who you ask. “USDA is conducting an ongoing joint investigation with the Department of Justice into price-fixing in the chicken-processing industry,” the White House said in September, blaming manufacturers. They, on the other hand, said labor shortages and weather play a factor.

“Multiple, unprecedented market shocks, including a global pandemic and severe weather conditions, led to an unexpected and drastic drop in meat processors’ abilities to operate at full capacity,” Tyson Foods said in a news release in September. “Labor shortages are also affecting the nation’s pork and poultry supply.”

Parents likely don’t care who’s to blame and are left wondering how to explain to their picky eater that their chicken tender now looks like a chicken nugget. If you’re thinking, “That’s not a biggie, it’s still chicken, just a different shape,” then you don’t have kids.

Parents (and all lovers of tenders) are trying to keep a sense of humor about it:

The shortage has left restaurant chains like KFC and A&W hanging, prompting them to leave the illusive tender out of advertising. Nashville-based Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is feeling the pain. Brian Morris, its culinary, learning and development vice president told NBC “[t]here is no safe harbor in the supply chain right now. We see it across the board, but certainly you feel the pain the most in tenders.”

Sending thoughts and prayers to everyone just trying to make it through December who now have to deal with the inevitable misery this will cause at dinnertime.