This season's lobster is more costly than normal due to a limited supply, strong demand, and the reopening of the economy as the country recovers from the coronavirus outbreak. Consumers are returning to seafood restaurants and markets for the first time in months, and the lobsters waiting for them are in high demand.
Lobster prices have been on the rise for the past year but were particularly high between March and May 2020. At that time, prices reached their highest level since 2008. The reason for this increase is the reduced availability of lobster due to the coronavirus outbreak. In February 2020, the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) issued a warning to fishermen not to go out to sea because there wasn't enough food for everyone. It took until mid-March before DFW announced that fishing was allowed to start up again and now that the coast is reopened, people want to eat it again.
The current price of a pound of cooked American lobster ranges from $20 to $40 depending on the region of the country. This is higher than usual because there are not enough lobsters to go around.
In an effort to protect dwindling supplies of lobster, some states limit the number of traps that can be owned by one person. Maine has a limit of 150 traps and Florida limits its citizens to keeping 50 pounds of lobster per year.
Prices for lobster tend to soar during the off-season since it's no longer as simple to get them. While May and June have the lowest lobster prices, the price per pound rises in late winter to early spring. The peak season is from July through September.
Lobster is a seasonal food item that should not be bought unless you are sure it will be used before its price goes up again. If you plan to freeze or preserve it, check the price before you buy. It's better to pay a little more at first than getting stuck with something expensive later.
Winter temperatures in Maine lower the water temperature and therefore the catch of both native and foreign lobster. This leads to fewer boats catching lobsters and higher prices. There are also less foreign lobster coming into the market which also contributes to higher prices.
The good news is that even though prices are higher in winter they still remain significantly cheaper than other seafood. A 12-ounce cooked lobster has about 250 calories and 29 grams of fat. That's about half the calorie intake of a steak dinner and one-fifth the fat content.
Lobster is a luxury item that requires some preparation before eating. Since we already know how much it costs to eat out once a week, adding lobster to your menu won't break the bank.
Unless soft-shell lobster returns, high lobster prices may persist until early summer. When the water temperature rises, lobsters molt and grow to market size, increasing the population. More lobsters in the supply chain will lower prices. Find out when is the ideal time to eat lobster. In fact, the best time to eat it is when it's fresh from the ocean and still warm from the sun.
Lobster prices are high because there's too much fish in the sea. Overfishing depleted lobster stocks until they were nearly extinct. Now that conservation efforts have started to succeed, there are again enough lobsters to meet demand. However, this doesn't explain why the price of lobster keeps going up even though there's less fish in the sea.
Lobster prices are high because of the high cost of harvesting them. Lobsters are hard to harvest mechanically, so fishermen tend to use explosives or hook and line to catch them. This can damage the environment and cause serious injuries to humans who go fishing illegally. Economies of scale help lower the cost of harvesting lobster; large companies can buy equipment used by fishermen which saves money for everyone involved.
Lobster prices are high because people think they're worth it. Some people will pay a lot for a taste of the ocean. The same thing happens with scallops and other shellfish; they're expensive because some people believe they're worth it.
Lobster with the Highest Price Maine (American) lobster is typically the most sought after and hence the most costly. It is the tastiest and most delicious, and it is slaughtered just minutes before it reaches your plate. They can be acquired and transferred home if they are sold live (the most costly). Actually, all types of lobster can be bought this way.
Lobsters are harvested by hand in small boats called "pots" by fishermen who use long poles with hooks at the end. The lobsters jump into the boat when caught. If they do not, the fisherman uses a spade-like tool to dig them up.
Harvesting season for Maine (American) lobster starts in late June and ends in early October. Lobsters are shipped frozen to markets around the world where they are defrosted and sold live. They can also be shipped fresh to market if you plan to eat them within a few days of catching them.
Maine (American) lobsters can grow to about 10 inches (25 centimeters) across and weigh up to 1 pound (500 grams). There are several different varieties of lobster, but only two are usually found on market shelves: Maine (American) lobster and Florida lobster. Although both are edible, they have very different tastes and textures.
Because they were so numerous in the 1600s, American lobsters were dirt inexpensive. Seafood was not rationed during WWII, and many people found lobster as a delicacy. Chef Ed outlines the complexities of capturing and exporting lobsters, which contribute to the restaurant's high expense of serving them.
Lobster has been popular since the early days of New England. Once plentiful, their decline is reflected in these photographs from the 1920s. Even then, they are still considered a luxury item.
In the 1600s, American lobsters were dirt cheap because they were so common. There were just too many of them. Lobsters were sold by the pound for bait. And since they were eaten whole, they had no market value as food. They were valuable only for their shells, which were used to make china.
The first recorded sale of lobster in America took place in 1631, when two barrels of lobster meat were bought at $1 per pound for use as bait. At that price, it must have been a very good catch. Bait prices increased over time but never reached the expensive range until well into the 20th century.
During World War II, seafood was not rationed, and many people found lobster as a delicacy. The chef at Boston's famous Copley Plaza Hotel served an entire lobster for $10 in 1947. That's equivalent to about $150 today.