Make us your home page
Instagram

Higher lobster prices could be sign of things to come

PORTLAND, Maine — Lobster prices in North American recently reached their highest point in more than 10 years and could become the typical bottom line as demand for processed lobster meat grows.

The wholesale price of a 1¼-pound hard-shelled lobster at the end of August reached $8.50, the highest price for that month since 2005, according to Urner Barry commodities publishing service.

Retail prices have remained high into September, with consumers typically paying $9 to $11 per pound for a live lobster — a few dollars more than a year ago at this time. The high prices are a product of several factors, including the ebb and flow of lobstermen's catch and the demand from Asian countries that are developing a taste for the New England treat.

But one factor — the growing demand for processed lobster products such as lobster rolls and lobster macaroni and cheese — could keep the price high in the future, said market analyst John Sackton, who publishes a website called SeafoodNews.com. The growing interest in the products has spurred demand in parts of the country where lobster is less common in restaurants than it is in New England, he said.

"Lobster trucks are starting up in Los Angeles and places like that," Sackton said. "I think, long term, there's going to be more of a shift where consumption of lobster is going to be predicated on processed products and less on live products."

The growth of the lobster processing industry in Maine, whose fishermen produce the country's largest catches, has helped enable the shift toward processed lobster products. Maine's industry was barely existent at all 25 years ago and now includes 15 firms that process millions of pounds of meat every year. Canada also has a significant lobster fishery and its processing industry is much larger.

This year, the typical autumn lobster price dip that happens after tourists flee New England's summer resort towns is still likely but could be less severe, Sackton said.

Alex Todd, a lobsterman who fishes out of Chebeague Island in Maine, said fishermen like him have gotten slightly more per pound this year. But it will take continued heavy catches to provide the processors with enough product, he said.

U.S. lobstermen caught more than 100 million pounds of lobster for the first time in 2009 and have exceeded that amount every year since. Maine and other coastal New England states account for most of the catch.

"The processors, they can't work unless we get a higher volume," Todd said.

Higher lobster prices could be sign of things to come 09/09/16 [Last modified: Friday, September 9, 2016 11:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rick Scott appoints 'my friend,' Jimmy Patronis, as Florida CFO

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday appointed a long-time friend and political supporter, Jimmy Patronis, to replace Jeff Atwater as Florida's next chief financial officer, making him one of three members of the Cabinet that sets state policy on a wide range of issues. He'll take over Friday.

    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.

    Corporate

    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  5. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]