Glut of Canada lobster pushes prices down

Published on
June 20, 2014

After a glut of lobster in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island this spring, U.S. and Canadian restaurant chains are heavily promoting the species and prices are falling.

McDonald’s Canada recently brought back the McLobster sandwich in its Atlantic region and, in the U.S., Red Lobster is featuring a Lobster Tacos throughout the summer. Several other restaurant chains and retailers are running promotions on live lobster, lobster rolls and other lobster items in June.

Nova Scotia has had live lobsters sitting at the dock, after a glut from large catches and warmer weather. Some lobstermen say the price has dropped to USD 4 (EUR 2.95) a pound.

Meanwhile, U.S. lobster tails are going for between USD 14.75 (EUR 10.86) and USD 15 (EUR 11.04) for 3-4 oz. on average. And the Maine live lobster market will pick up in July.

“We are in a very different situation than Canada right now; the season hasn’t begun in earnest,” Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, told SeafoodSource.

Retail and foodservice buyers have benefitted from high Canadian and New England lobster supply for the past two seasons. In 2012, Maine landed 127 million pounds, and landed around 125 million pounds in 2013. “Canada was pretty much in line with the U.S., so it was around a combined 300 million pounds between the two countries for the same lobster species,” McCarron said. “This is a lot more product that people had access to.”

However, Maine lobstermen don’t typically suffer from the same problem as in Canada: low FOB prices and product sitting at the dock. “You don’t hear about situations in Maine where people can’t move the product,” McCarron said.

Maine lobstermen also stand to benefit from a normal molting season for its lobster. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) developed a very detailed model for the 2014 season, after lobstermen were caught off guard in 2012 with an early molting season.

This year, GMRI is predicting that molt will start at the end of June. “That signals tourist season in Maine and New England, and brings a lot of demand with it,” McCarron said.

Contributing Editor

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