March 9, 2017
Lobster prices in North America at 10-year high
Lobster prices on the North American market hit a 10-year high due to weak landings and higher demand particularly for lobster meat, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Retail prices on the US East Coast remained high into September 2016, when consumers were paying between US$9 and $11 per pound for live lobster. Besides weaker landings and growing demand for live products, other cited reasons for the high prices include rising interest from processors of such products as lobster rolls and lobster macaroni and cheese, and interest in Asia for North American lobster.
FAO said the demand for lobster as a raw material for processed products may keep prices high for some time into the future.
During the first half of 2016, EU lobster imports from the US (for all product forms, including live) amounted to 2,600 tonnes, an increase of about 19%. EU imports from Canada increased even more, from 2,000 tonnes during the first half of 2015 to almost 2,600 tonnes during the same period in 2016.
For all product forms, total lobster imports into the EU during the first half of 2016 totalled 8,600 tonnes.
Growing demand in UK
According to FAO, demand for lobster was growing in the UK as lobster was no longer an exclusive dish for the affluent but becoming a mainstream food. Some industry observers said most of the lobsters consumed in the UK were imported from the US and Canada.
It was noted that the spring lobster season in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada, showed poorer landings during the period under analysis (January-October 2016). Landings dropped by 13.5% to 10,700 tonnes. However, tighter supplies led to higher prices so that the value of the catch increased by 22% to CAN$148 million (US$113.8 million).
In Maine, hard-shell lobsters were in high demand. Coupled with a low supply, this resulted in price increases. Landings were down by 50% compared with the previous year, and prices were up to US$6.50 per pound.
During the first half of 2016, world imports of lobster increased slightly compared with the same period in 2015. Total imports were 3% higher at 58,000 tonnes. The main changes were a 26.6% increase in Chinese imports to 10,000 tonnes, and an 11% drop in US imports to 24,900 tonnes. FAO said that practically this drop was due to lower Canadian exports to the US. -- Rick Alberto