15 August, 2008

Drop in Demand Lowers Lobster Prices

With the summer lobster catch stable but demand dropping, the price of lobster has drifted downward at both the wholesale and retail levels, according to a recent news story on newsday.com.

'At ShopRite in New London and Norwich, owner Ken Capano is selling live lobsters for $5.99 a pound, an "unprecedented" sale price that has lasted six weeks, he said. "The price has come down, but more important, what I'm hearing is, the supply side to supermarket retailers is better because tourist consumption is down in Maine," he said. "So there's been more consistent supply.

"I've never seen anything like it where I'm able to promote lobsters at a reasonable price," he said.'
Although this is good news for consumers, it's making it even tougher for lobster fisherman. The wholesale price of bugs is down more than a dollar a pound, diesel prices are double what they were last year and the price of bait has tripled, putting a tighter squeeze on lobstermen than ever.

News reports are saying that the dock prices for lobster are well under $5.00 a pound in Massachusetts and staying around $5.00 a pound in Connecticut and Rhode Island. When we were in southern Maine last weekend, the retail price at lobster shacks from York to Portland was around $5.50 for standard pound-and-a-halfers.

My guess is that lobster prices are going to remain soft for a little while yet - at least through Labor Day. The CBC reports that lobstermen on Prince Edward Island and southern New Brunswick are also getting lower prices for their bugs (C$8 - C$9.50 a kilo) thanks to a combination of great harvest, higher Canadian dollar, and sluggish American economy (lots of Canadian lobsters are sold in the US market.)


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