National Football League fans gather in downtown Tampa prior to Super Bowl LV during the COVID-19 pandemic on January 30, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Octavio Jones | Getty Images
Super Bowl Sunday is a big day for football and restaurants.
But the chains that are likely to benefit most from feeding hungry fans have already seen sales spike during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only Thanksgiving is Super Bowl Sunday as the biggest food holiday. The big game drew more than 100 million viewers last year. Non-soccer fans head to the NFL championship for fun commercials, a fun halftime show, and the food at watch parties.
For Yum Brands’ Pizza Hut, Super Bowl Sunday is the busiest day of the year. Domino’s Pizza typically delivers around 2 million cakes that day, 30% more than a typical Sunday. Fat Brands, which owns the Hurricane Grill & Wings, Buffalo’s Cafe, and Buffalo’s Express locations, sells half a million chicken wings on Super Bowl Sundays. For Wingstop it is one of the five best sales days every year.
During the pandemic, pizza and chicken wings were a staple of Americans’ quarantine diet. Both are known for being good at travel, and the biggest players in the categories have been working for years to make their food more convenient.
In the fourth quarter, Pizza Hut in the US saw sales growth of 8% in the same store. Domino’s posted double-digit sales growth in the United States in the second and third quarters. And Wingstop, which already outpaced rest of the industry’s sales growth before the crisis, reported that sales in the same store rose 25% in the third quarter.
“If what we’ve just seen over the past 12 months is any indication that it is outperforming the industry in sales, we expect it to stay that way this Sunday,” said Brian Gies, Church’s Chicken global chief marketing officer.
Church’s Chicken, which serves boneless chicken tenders and wings, launched its Texas Tenders’ N Shrimp meal in time for this year’s Super Bowl to capitalize on that demand. The menu item was created to appeal to customers who observe Lent, which only starts on February 17th.
Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison said through a spokesman that the company continues to expect strong sales for the big game. However, compared to previous years, the Chicken Wing Chain can get more orders and a lower average check due to the smaller size of the congregations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended minimizing guest lists for guard parties and holding outdoor or virtual celebrations.
“I think it’s going to be a very big weekend for us and I think sales will be off the charts,” said Andy Wiederhorn, CEO of Fat Brands.
The pandemic has also created supply chain challenges for restaurant companies waiting for a busy Super Bowl. Mozzarella cheese prices have risen, which will weigh on pizza chain profits. In the first week of February, Wisconsin wholesale prices for a pound of mozzarella cheese rose to $ 2.70, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture report released on Wednesday. In February 2019, mozzarella prices averaged $ 2.15 per pound.
Chicken wing chains are under even more pressure. Wholesale prices have risen and restaurant operators are reporting shortages.
Wiederhorn said the company usually sees a tight supply at this time of year anyway.
“The only time it wasn’t a battle was when McDonald’s went into the chicken wing business like it did seven or eight years ago, and it failed miserably. They threw all the wings on the market because they had to get rid of them.” Repeatedly said.
As a result, Fat Brands is starting planning its Super Bowl wing orders a year in advance. The supply problem is particularly dire this year, however, as there are outbreaks in meat processing plants and increased demand for chicken wings, driven by higher supply sales in this category. Fat Brands is bringing some frozen chicken wings to complement the usual fresh wing supply.