Industry News | January 30, 2013

Pizza and Wings Galore: Brands Prep for Super Bowl

Four million pizzas. More than 1.2 billion wings. A whopping 325.5 million gallons of beer. These are just a few of the staggering statistics predicted for U.S. consumption this Super Bowl Sunday.

And quick serves—especially wings and pizza joints, which carry two Super Bowl must-haves—are prepping for the storm.

“We do a lot of work to make sure we have plenty of supply, because we know demand is very high and has continued to grow every year,” says Charlie Morrison, president and CEO of Wingstop, which is expected to sell more than 6 million wings this Sunday at its 550 units.

Hungry Howie’s, a Michigan-based pizza chain with more than 545 locations in 21 states, is set to sell 150,000 pizzas and more than 200,000 wings on Sunday, says Jeff Rinke, vice president of marketing. That comes out to 58,000 pounds of cheese; 65 tons of dough; 5,800 gallons of pizza sauce; and 19,000 pounds of wings.

“We ordered enough food from our distribution center, knowing that wings are one of the most consumed foods, along with pizza, on Super Bowl Sunday,” he says. “We stocked up, and we prepared for this.”

Morrison says Wingstop expects Super Bowl sales to be up 15 percent over 2012, which would be the 13th straight year of record-setting figures. While some of this growth comes from sheer unit-count expansion, he says much of it stems “from the continued growth and awareness of wings as a great product for the Super Bowl.

“We’re able to capitalize on it because we’re prepared,” Morrison adds,” and we’ve got the points of distribution to deliver it.”

As its hands-down busiest day of the year, Wing Zone CEO and cofounder Matt Friedman says the brand has been prepping for this day for weeks. Its 70 locations are projected to sell 1.2 millions wing and bring in $1 million in sales.

To handle the demand, Friedman says the brand will open its doors an hour early on Sunday and serve a limited menu. “We really stick to our core products, which are really our wings, our boneless wings, our new Skinny Dippers, chicken tenders, fries, [and] coleslaw.”

Morrison says the majority of Wingstop’s customers will be craving its bone-in chicken wings in flavors like Original Hot Sauce, Lemon Pepper Sauce, and Honey Barbecue. In fact, 30 percent of Wingstop’s sales on Super Bowl Sunday come from its Original Hot wings.

But while it seems consumers’ taste for wings is going nowhere but up, many brands felt the pressure this year, as rising chicken-wing prices and slimmer-than-usual supply combined to create a tough situation.

Fortunately, Friedman says the brand took precautionary steps to handle it. “We did something different this year because we knew supply would be tight,” he says, adding that each unit had to pre-place its Super Bowl order for Sunday. “All of our wings shipped were fresh, and we really worked with our supplier partner, which was Tyson, to really fill every order.”

Because demand for products like wings and pizza are higher than ever during the Super Bowl, Friedman says there’s no need to push the promos or specials it offers many other days of the year.

“We learned many years ago that it’s the one day a year that you really don’t need to promote discounts on your core offering,” he says.

But Pizza Hut isn’t shying away from a big-time promo. In line with its consumer-generated “Hut. Hut. Hut!” commercial that’s airing during the game, the pizza brand is giving fans a chance to try its newest—but not yet revealed—product.

If the word “hut” is heard during the Super Bowl game—and chances are, it will, considering Stats, Inc. says the word is said an average of 90 times each game—fans can get a free sample of the mystery item on Tuesday, February 5, from 4–7 p.m.

Pizza Hut—which predicts it will sell more than 2 million pizzas and 5 million wings on the big day—will unveil the new pizza product on the CBS pre-game show on February 3.

“Anyone can give away a pizza, but not just anyone can offer up a new product that’s a true category breakthrough,” said Kurt Kane, chief marketing officer, in a statement. “So many people will be making the right ‘Hut’ call when ordering any pizza for just $10 from us that we want to reward them with something new to keep the pizza party going.”

By Mary Avant

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.