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Chicken is absurdly expensive right now. This food company is offering a clever alternative

Alpha Foods is lowering the prices of its chicken nugget alternatives in direct response to a chicken price surge. Will it help lure meat eaters?

Chicken is absurdly expensive right now. This food company is offering a clever alternative
[Photo: Alpha Foods]
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Chicken inflation is real. Over the last year, the price of chicken wings ballooned from about $1.50 per pound to $4. Increased demand has led to a global supply shortage, since each bird only has two wings.

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To capitalize on the problem, Alpha Foods has launched a new promotion that lowers the prices of its plant-based Chik’n Nuggets to match the increase in poultry costs. If chicken wing prices go up by $2, then Alpha’s prices will drop by $2. The idea is to use the threat of having to pay double the price for chicken wings to tempt people to give this plant-based option a try.

[Image: Alpha Foods]
It’s the latest move in the fake chicken wars. As my colleague Mark Wilson wrote earlier this month, plant-based chicken is projected to be a roughly $1 billion industry by 2027, with brands like Daring, Nuggs, Lightlife, and Incogmeato’s Chik’n, all trying to sell generations of Americans who grew up on chicken nuggets and tenders a plant-based option. Alpha hopes it’s enough to boost awareness of its brand in an increasingly crowded market, including bigger and more recognizable brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Alpha chief marketing officer Kierstin De West says the goal was to get the attention of potential customers in a way that was connected to the real world. “We really wanted to come up with a way to better seize cultural moments and be integrated into people’s lives in an authentic and fun way,” says De West, in an email. “After seeing that chicken prices were rising, we came up with this as an attention-grabbing method to make that connection.”

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[Photo: Alpha Foods]
For the campaign, created with ad agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address, Alpha is giving chicken a Wall Street makeover, with a dedicated “chickenflation” site featuring a chicken wing price ticker, also featured on a Nasdaq digital billboard in New York City’s Times Square. The discounts are available online for the next two weeks, where customers can get coupons reflecting the price changes to use in stores. At press time, the discount price for nuggets was 83¢ per pound, based on a 29.5% increase in chicken wing prices from July 16 to 28.

According to one report citing United States Department of Agriculture figures, cold storage stock of chicken wings is at its lowest in a decade. In June, Duff’s Famous Wings president Jeff Feather told MarketScale, “I’ve been in this business for 40 years, and I’ve seen fluctuation in prices. They seem to go in a two to three-year cycle where all of a sudden they’d shoot up, but we’ve never seen a shortage like this. Prices would go up, but we could always get product. This is the first time it’s even hard to get what we want.”

As silly as “chickenflation” sounds, it’s indeed very real, and Alpha’s hoping more of us will take it as an opportunity to invest in some plant-based principal.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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