Lobster exports to Europe dip during holiday season

Published on
December 22, 2015

Lobster exports to Europe from the United States and Canada are dipping for the 2015 holiday season, with some shippers blaming a formidable U.S. dollar coupled with a slogging overseas economy for the downturn.

The Feast of Seven Fishes will feature fewer lobsters this year in Europe, according to the Associated Press – some in the American lobster industry hypothesize that European business will fall more than 25 percent compared to last year.

Michael Tourkistas, CEO and President of AHI Group and East Coast Seafood Inc., describes a perfect storm of factors possibly driving the trend: Not only is lobster a luxury item, but the influx in prices thanks to competition from Chinese importers, paired with a weakened euro could be keeping a number of potential European consumers at bay, he told the AP.

“Nobody wants to be seen with a lobster claw hanging out of their mouth when the economy is really suffering," said Tourkistas to the AP.

U.S. exports of lobster to Spain, which were once valued at USD 63 million (EUR 57.4 million), fell below USD 40 million (EUR 36.4 million) last year. What’s more, American lobster imports to Italy – Italians feature the crustaceans oftentimes in Christmas Eve seafood feasts and for La Vigilia – sunk to less than 8.2 million pounds in 2014, reported the AP.

As European sales decrease, lobster fishers in New England are hauling in record numbers of catch. For the past three years in a row, New England lobster catches have exceeded 140 million pounds.

China, meanwhile, is absorbing an increased amount of American lobster exports, with the region accepting more than USD 90 million for the shipped shellfish last year.

"There's growth in Asia," lobsterman William Adler told AP. "Whatever happens in Europe happens."

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