‘I pay 30% more’: Lobster prices skyrocket just in time for Memorial Day weekend

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A lobster roll? It will be $ 34, please.

Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine charges just that for a lobster roll. But it’s not the only lobster shack that’s been forced to raise prices, Americans preparing to indulge in Maine’s summer staple should expect to pay more this Memorial weekend. Day.

Americans have spent more money on food over the past year, in large part because of rising inflation. Food prices in grocery stores, which rose 5.7% on average in April this year compared to April 2020, according to data from NielsenIQ NLSN,
-1.68%,
a market research firm.

“I’m paying 30% more for lobsters this year than in 2019,” said Steve Kingston, owner of The Clam Shack, a Kennebunkport, a restaurant in Maine known for its lobster rolls.


During the pandemic, lobster restaurants have struggled to stay afloat with take-out orders.

Unlike other restaurants that charge a market price for lobster rolls, which means the price is subject to change based on the price they pay for lobsters, Kingston prefers to charge a fixed rate each summer.

In 2019, he sold lobster rolls for $ 20.95, but this summer he’s selling them for $ 24.95 – a difference of almost 20%.

Bangor Daily News carried out an investigation on $ 34 Lobster Rolls at Red Eat. About 81% of readers said it was too expensive for a lobster roll.

Gary Blackman Sr., who runs Karen’s Hideaway lobster shack in Boothbay, Maine, told the newspaper, “The price is up, but the boys are not catching anything. But that’s the kind of year it’s been. Why? No one has an answer.

“The water might be too cold, the weather might be crazy. I hope that in a week or two things will change, ”he added.

The lobster roll sold at Clam Shack, a restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine, is priced at $ 24.95 this summer.

Daryl getman

At the start of the pandemic, lobsters had a surplus of shellfish on their hands

Others have theories on expensive shellfish. During the COVID-19 pandemic, closed restaurants struggled to stay afloat with take-out orders, and many simply could not afford to buy cases of lobsters, even at bargain prices, said Kingston at MarketWatch.

They were afraid they would end up with freezers full of lobsters and no one to buy them.

Normally, lobsters could export to China – one of the major lobster importing countries – but travel restrictions and port closures in the country where the coronavirus was first discovered in December 2019 prevented them from do it.


Demand for lobsters is declining, but not for lobsters.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO, said the bottom fell from the international lobster industry in the early months of COVID-19, as people stayed at home.

U.S. lobster exports declined 44.6% to just 4,583 tonnes in the first six months of 2020, while Canada suffered a 17.8% drop to 40,092 tonnes during the same period, a- he declared. The largest importer, the United States, imported 24,326 tonnes, down 11.5% from the same period in 2019.

Now that most restaurants in Maine can operate at full capacity and out-of-state vaccinated travelers can make it without having to quarantine or get tested for coronavirus, demand for lobsters is declining – but lobsters are not.

If stored properly, she said lobsters can stay fresh for up to 24 months.

Lobsters were scarce in the winter, Kingston said. But even during the peak harvest season, which usually starts in April and lasts until June in Maine, lobsters are hard to find.

Steve Kingston, pictured, took over The Clam Shack in 2000. During the pandemic, lobster roll making kits became his main source of income.

Daryl getman

Most restaurants and / or lobster processors have run out of lobsters they frozen last March in early September, said Annie Tselikis, executive director of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association, a trade association that supports lobster wholesalers and processors.

Kingston and other restaurants that make lobster rolls have expanded their customer base during the pandemic by shipping lobster roll making kits across the country.


“The whole seafood industry really depends on the restaurant industry.


– Annie Tselikis, general manager of the Maine Lobster Dealers’ Association,

Even as more Americans are eating out, the kits are still in high demand, Kingston and Tselikis said.

People who eat lobster at home compete with the same crates Kingston buys for The Clam Shack, he said. Locals won’t think twice about the price of his lobster rolls, he said, but he’s worried about turning away from the towers.

“When you’re dealing with lobster rolls, you’re dealing with protein champagne,” Tselikis said. “When you start with an expensive protein, you’ll get hefty menu prices.”

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