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First pizza, now wings: NFL protests blamed for falling sales

Chicken wing sales are down, and some suspect that the NFL national anthem protests are to blame.

The CEO of Sanderson Farms Inc., a top poultry producer in America, recently expressed concerns about falling wings sales on a conference call to discuss earnings, Bloomberg reports.

“The only thing puzzling me right now is wings,” Joe F. Sanderson Jr., chief executive officer of the namesake company, said Thursday.

“It’s just been reported to us that some of our customers think that their traffic is down because of the demonstrations by some of the NFL players,” he told Bloomberg in an interview after the call.

Bloomberg cited a government report that shows wing sales have fallen to 14 percent lower than they were last year just over the last three months. The falling sales coincide with several NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem before their games, ostensibly to protest widespread police brutality in America. President Trump has criticized the anthem protests as “total disrespect of our heritage,” an opinion shared by many.

Is correlation causation? It’s not entirely clear, but Sanderson isn’t the only wing producer taking a hit.

“Sanderson shares fell 13 percent to $145.85 Thursday in New York, the worst slump since August 2004. The company posted lower-than-expected earnings per share in the fourth quarter as chicken prices weakened from rising production and hurricane-related disruptions. Rival processor Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. dropped as much as 8.1 percent, the most in almost 13 months, while Tyson Foods Inc. fell 2.5 percent,” Megan Durisin reported for Bloomberg.

One of the potential causes of the slump is the growing popularity of boneless wings as a substitute for chicken wings, Durisin explained.

But the fact remains that NFL ratings are way down, and last month Papa John’s pizza directly linked its falling sales to the NFL protests. Until NFL players cease politicizing their games, things aren’t likely to change.

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