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johnnyd

Lobster Prices Tank

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This week in Portland, we are aghast at the lowest price for lobster in memory.

Much ink has been spilled on the subject in the local press. The Maine Lobster Association has launched a localized promotional campaign to encourage the purchase of the beast, because usually in a typical year, lobsters cost too much for the local folk unless you "know someone".

I saw a truck on commercial street selling them for $3.99 per pound. One day, $3.49

I talked with a lobsterman who said wharf price was $2.50, which makes leaving the dock laden with fuel, bait and sternmen wages borderline crazy. They are lucky to break even.

A recent local TV news spot showed a Stonington buyer saying the major restaurant chains have pulled back their buying regimen - usually six months out - because either they were uncertain of future demand, or perhaps because credit to buy has gone rotten. In Mid-coast Maine, Stonington has been a major source for international buyers. These include Canadian processors who, unfortunately, are financed partly by Icelandic Banks.

The folks most affected are those Downeast. With the economy eternally crappy there, this situation is devastating. What is especially ironic is that lobsters are running hard right now and the catch is usually pretty large this time of year.

So - in the event you are in the mood for seafood, think about a lobster or three, and tell your friends.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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What would that retail for outside of Maine? Say, in Texas?

I've never ever cooked lobster at home. Not totally sure why, though price probably has something to do with it. That, and I am not sure how to cook it without a giant pot to steam it in.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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What would that retail for outside of Maine? Say, in Texas?

I've never ever cooked lobster at home.  Not totally sure why, though price probably has something to do with it. That, and I am not sure how to cook it without a giant pot to steam it in.

Most of the larger grocery chains that offer live lobsters will steam them for you.

And I think with this news, I'm gonna get me a couple.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Hannaford is a major supermarket chain in the Northeast. We do a major shop Saturday and drop by every other day to plug the holes.

Last night, there was a pile of bagged, steamed lobsters next to the chilled shrimp with price tags of $5.04, $4.87, etc.

Harbor Fish had 1⅛lb new shells for $3.99 this morning. Shelled lobster meat was about $37/lb.

I'd like to hear from other parts of the Nation what people are paying for Maine lobster - consumers, and restaurants. Could be interesting.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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My local seafood shop has Maine lobster at twelve bucks a pound. They drive a truck several time a week to Boston to get their stuff - I assume that they deal with one of the big wholesalers there.

I hadn't checked the prices recently. They're down a bit, but I don't know how quickly they respond to changes at the supplier level.

This situation really sucks for the lobstermen. :sad:

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Hannaford is a major supermarket chain in the Northeast.  We do a major shop Saturday and drop by every other day to plug the holes. 

Last night, there was a pile of bagged, steamed lobsters next to the chilled shrimp with price tags of $5.04,  $4.87, etc.

Harbor Fish had 1⅛lb new shells for $3.99 this morning.  Shelled lobster meat was about $37/lb.

I'd like to hear from other parts of the Nation what people are paying for Maine lobster - consumers, and restaurants.  Could be interesting.

Publix - Sarasota, FL - 10/24/08

~ 1.5 lb live - $14.99/lb


Edited by dls (log)

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Walmart in Vero Beach, FL, 10/23/08

Maine Lobsters $12.99/lb. (not sure what size, they looked like 1.5 or so)

I remember back in 1986, I was living in NH and Hannafords (was it called "Sun Foods" back then?) had lobsters on sale - all sizes - for $3.99/lb.

We bought one that was over 10 lbs, and I was totally freaked out when I figured out how old the thing had to be. Plus it was a devil to cook - used a 20 qt stock pot to steam it and had to forcibly keep the lid on for the first couple of minutes. A 10lb lobster has some strength, let me tell you. We probably should have killed it, cut it into parts and cooked it all separately, but we were young and didn't really know what we were doing in the kitchen. I still feel bad about it. If only lobster didn't taste so darn good. :wink:

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They're down a bit, but I don't know how quickly they respond to changes at the supplier level.

This situation really sucks for the lobstermen.  :sad:

At $4.59 about three weeks ago, people started raising eyebrows. Last Friday is when it dipped under $4, and when the Lobster council launched their promo, so it had already been bad enough for a flurry of meetings to develop and execute emergency measures.

That said, you'd think the low prices would already affect out of state markets, but I guess not. Saratoga, Vero Beach and Ohio markets probably have animals bought at a higher price and won't be able to mark down until they get the new batch.

Lobster apps for Thanksgiving is what we all should be thinking about.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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...

Saratoga, Vero Beach and Ohio markets probably have animals bought at a higher price and won't be able to mark down until they get the new batch. 

Lobster apps for Thanksgiving is what we all should be thinking about.

The place I linked to sells mainly to restaurants. They have a small retail operation sort of as an afterthought. I'm pretty sure that they get fresh lobsters in at least once a week. I'll ask them if they are seeing the prices drop of late.

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I checked today at the two largest supermarkets in my area, Queensbury, N.Y. near Glens Falls, Lake George and Saratoga Springs. At Price Chopper, the smallest ones were $10/lb with the largest at $16/lb. At Hannaford the smallest were $11/lb and the largest $15/lb. I find it hard to believe that they are still trying to move them at those prices right now. Something is screwy. Needless to say, I didn't buy any at those prices. I wasn't buying them at those prices when the economy was better! I will be happy to buy them when the prices are more reflective of reality.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Lobster isn't too pricey here -- $5.99/lb for 2 claw market size. Here's this weekend's flyer from my market: click.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Northern Jersey Shop Rite --

2-4lb $9.99lb

under 2lb $6.99

Okay - the closer one is to the source, the less expensive they appear to be. Ten bucks for a 2 - 4 pound seems in line with boat prices in Maine, except these are probably from Massachusetts - Maine prohibits harvesting larger lobsters to protect the breeding stock. Clearly the low wholesale price has yet to spread beyond the Northeast.

I stopped by the lobster truck in the Old Port here Friday and spent $11 for two lobsters, about one & a half pound each. The trucks owner is a lobsterman who had just landed and was resupplying the trucks tanks. He had caught about 400 lbs of soft-shells that day.

"Just two?" she said.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Lobster isn't too pricey here -- $5.99/lb for 2 claw market size. Here's this weekend's flyer from my market: click.

Peter,

What are butterflied Digby Chicks? Do they mean cheeks?

Are the lobsters you get in NS, the same lobster they get in Maine?

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Peter,

What are butterflied Digby Chicks?  Do they mean cheeks?

They're herrings that have been gutted, opened up like a butterfly then cured with salt and smoke.
Are the lobsters you get in NS, the same lobster they get in Maine?
Ours have better health care but theirs get to carry guns. :raz: Same species Homarus americanus.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Are the lobsters you get in NS, the same lobster they get in Maine?
Ours have better health care but theirs get to carry guns. :raz: Same species Homarus americanus.

:laugh::laugh::laugh:


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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MSNBC covers plummeting lobster prices in Portland Maine. Their media van was parked in front of a lobster pound in the downtown district last week.

This is an outstanding companion video to our conversation. It's also nice to see eGullet scooped the cable newsboys. :cool:

ETA: Story preceeded by 20 second promo. Story is two minutes


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Peter,

What are butterflied Digby Chicks?  Do they mean cheeks?

They're herrings that have been gutted, opened up like a butterfly then cured with salt and smoke.

The Digby chicks would be a great name for a country band.

Are the lobsters you get in NS, the same lobster they get in Maine?
Ours have better health care but theirs get to carry guns. :raz: Same species Homarus americanus.

:laugh:

So can you confirm the story that in the old days, if you were really poor in the Atlantic Provinces, you went out after a storm and picked up lobster off the beach... and hid if you saw anyone so they didn't know you were reduced to eating lobster? :huh:

... then again, maybe I don't want to know because it's so good a story I'm going to keep telling it anyway. :biggrin:


It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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So can you confirm the story that in the old days, if you were really poor in the Atlantic Provinces, you went out after a storm and picked up lobster off the beach... and hid if you saw anyone so they didn't know you were reduced to eating lobster?
I can't speak for our esteemed neighbors, but lobster was "prison food" at some point around New England - 19th century, I'm guessing - but it's worth looking up. Once people started canning, it became a marketable resource and a very big industry.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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So can you confirm the story that in the old days, if you were really poor in the Atlantic Provinces, you went out after a storm and picked up lobster off the beach... and hid if you saw anyone so they didn't know you were reduced to eating lobster?
I can't speak for our esteemed neighbors, but lobster was "prison food" at some point around New England - 19th century, I'm guessing - but it's worth looking up. Once people started canning, it became a marketable resource and a very big industry.

My understanding is that the "colonial prisoners were fed lobster" story is an example of culinary fakelore. There aren't any contemporary references to the practice; references to it start appearing in the late 19th century-- a time when lobster stocks were starting to diminish-- to draw a contrast between the current scarcity of lobster and its ubiquity in the past.

Anyway, the lobstermen's loss was my gain; I was just up in Cape Cod and was happy to see lobster prices lower. I pretty much only eat lobster when I'm in New England (it's just better up there), and I eat a lot of it when I am there.

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So can you confirm the story that in the old days, if you were really poor in the Atlantic Provinces, you went out after a storm and picked up lobster off the beach... and hid if you saw anyone so they didn't know you were reduced to eating lobster?  :huh:

... then again, maybe I don't want to know because it's so good a story I'm going to keep telling it anyway. :biggrin:

My elderly neighbor tells me he was embarrassed to bring his lobster sandwich to school because he'd be teased in the lunch room -- that was pre-WWII. I've seen old photos of lobsters used to fertilize the potato field. A hundred years ago the average lobster was a lot bigger because few were being trapped, they'll grow huge if conditions are good. I saw a 20 pounder at the market on Sunday, he'd be well over a hundred years old. Seven years a pound, as they say.

For an image of Digby Chicks check out post #31 in Nova Scotia’s Traditional Foods, Searching and Experimenting.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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One day when we were diving for sea urchins off Kennebunkport, one guy came across this monster.

gallery_16643_1028_1294.jpg

Diving for lobsters is illegal in Maine, but this sucker was so huge he had to show the other guys on the boat. When stretched out, she was about 40 inches - big enough to touch both ends of that fish-tote, and bigger than a scuba tank. We guessed 75 years old for no other reason than it was, well, old.

We put her back in the water and it swam away slowly, in no particular hurry to get anywhere.


"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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