Higher lobster prices not a deterrent for US holiday promos
Despite the higher prices on live Maine lobster this season, many U.S. grocery chains are moving ahead with big Labor Day weekend sales.
Every Labor Day weekend, Highland Park, Ill.-based Sunset Foods holds a big lobster sale called “Lobster Fest.” This year is no different. The five-store chain is featuring live lobsters flown in from Portland, Maine, for USD 9.99 (EUR 8.89) each, down from USD 10.99 (EUR 9.78) a pound last year. Customers can also buy two steamed, packaged lobsters for USD 19.99 (EUR 17.78).
“It is more of a giveaway than trying to make money on it. The price is higher this year, so we are paying more and selling it for less,” said Dan Humphrey, seafood director for Sunset Foods. “We are lowering the price because we have had so much competition – at least six new stores – come into the area.”
Sunset Foods is promoting the lobster sale via social media and by serving lobster rolls at an art festival prior to Labor Day.
Meanwhile, Tewksbury, Mass.-based DeMoulas Market Basket is featuring new shell lobsters for USD 5.99 (EUR 5.33) per pound through 5 September. And Karns Quality Foods, of Mechanicsburg, Penn., is holding a “Lobster Fest” sale from 4 through 7 September, featuring live Maine lobsters for USD 8.99 (EUR 8) a pound.
However, because of the stronger price on live lobster this year – wholesalers blame a slow start to the season and strong overall demand – some grocery chains are avoiding promoting live lobster for Labor Day. The average price reported by buyers is USD 4 (EUR 3.56) per pound for soft shell and USD 6 (EUR 5.34) a pound for hard shell at the boat. Wholesale prices for hard shell, shippable lobster range from USD 5.25 (EUR 4.67) to USD 5.50 (EUR 4.89) per pound.
“I don’t see anyone advertising them this year. There is nothing wrong with the prices, but it is higher than it has been,” said Pete McAleney, manager of New Meadows Lobster in Portland, Maine. Retailers that may be buying lobster for USD 5 (EUR 4.45) a pound wholesale have to charge at least USD 6 (EUR 5.34) a pound at retail, he added. “You don’t want to get too high on the price, because what happens on 8 September if you don’t sell them all on 7 September? You are not going to move more on Tuesday and Wednesday.”