The Real Reason A Chicken Tender Shortage May Be Coming

If you're a picky eater, have kids, or just like pub grub, then chances are you buy and eat a fair amount of chicken tenders on a weekly basis. They're mild in flavor, versatile enough to be added to a variety of recipes, and don't require a ton of trimming and prep work at home before cooking. But if chicken tenders are a staple of your diet, then you might be getting worried, because there are rumors afloat that a chicken tender shortage is coming our way (via Eat This, Not That).

Chicken tenders actually require a fair amount of processing before they get to the store. They're attached to the chicken breast, so the chicken needs to be butchered into pieces, and then the tenders need to be removed from the breast (via The Kitchn). Each chicken only has two tenders, and they're smaller than the breasts, so in general, tenders are already a little harder to come by than other types of chicken meat. That's why new disruptions to the supply chain could be causing a shortage.

Supply chain woes are to blame

Though previous chicken tender shortages have been caused by high demand and the elaborate processing and packaging they require, this shortage seems to be caused by COVID-related supply chain woes. On "Today," it was reported that not only is it getting harder to find chicken tenders at stores right now, but that they're almost a dollar more expensive this year than they were last year at the same time. It could be because of COVID-related staffing shortages up and down the line, from the chicken farms to the processing and packaging plants. There were reports of a similar chicken wings shortage earlier in the year, for many of the same reasons.

Even fast food chains like KFC and A&W have said that they're facing a shortage of chicken tenders –- not enough to stop selling them, but the supply is tight enough that they aren't as aggressively promoting their tenders as they might usually. If your family relies on chicken tenders as a staple ingredient, it might be time to start rationing what you have on hand, and if you see a good deal on chicken tenders at the store, stock up while you can.