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McDonald's Stores Test Bone-in Chicken Wings

15 August 2012, at 9:58am

US - McDonald’s is adding bone-in chicken wings to its menu in metro Atlanta, a move that could be big business for the poultry industry — including in Georgia, the nation’s number 1 chicken producer.

The world’s largest burger chain — which often sells more chicken than its core product — is using Atlanta as a laboratory to test the wings because of its diverse population and a strong push from the Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Operators Association, the local franchisee group, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We were very aggressive in pursuing that,” said J M Owens, an Atlanta operator and a member of the GAMOA’s executive board. He said area franchisees enjoy helping set the company’s direction, including launching frappes that eventually went national.

If the product goes national, it could add millions of income for poultry companies because of the volume of business McDonald’s commands, experts said.

“Any new chicken product they add will definitely give the industry a shot in the arm,” said Charles Olentine, executive vice president at the US Poultry and Egg Association. “When McDonald’s introduced the Egg McMuffin it reshaped the industry.”

Georgia produces about 1.4 billion chickens per year, the most of any state, said Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Association. The industry has an annual impact of $18.4 billion in the state.

The addition of wings to local McDonald’s locations comes as the industry braces for expected hikes in the price of corn — the primary feed for chickens — and tightened supplies because of this summer’s drought. The Chicago-based company also reported slower global sales Wednesday, a reverse from earnings a year ago when profits were up.