Restaurants feel pinch of high lobster prices
The popular shellfish is fetching 30% more per pound than it did last year, prompting some eateries to drop it.
Updated at 12:54 p.m.
Lobsters prices are 30% higher than they were last year -- so expensive, in fact, that many restaurants are dropping the tasty dish from their menus, according to trade publication Nation's Restaurant News.
Late winter storms interfered with catches over the past few weeks, constraining supplies. Canadian lobsters are fetching between $9.50 and $10.50 per pound in Massachusetts, the center of the industry, versus $6.50 to $7.25 per pound a year ago, the website says.
"I’ve never seen it this high," Bill Adler, the executive director of the Massachusetts Lobsterman's Association, told NRN.
The pinch is even being felt thousands of miles away in California, where demand from China is crimping supplies. "We had to cut it; we just couldn’t justify serving it once it got so expensive," said Carson Wise, a manager at California's Las Olas restaurant, in an interview with local paper The Coast News.
Ironically, Darden Restaurants' (DRI) Red Lobster chain isn't affected by the price increases. Because the company negotiates prices in advance, temporary market fluctuations don't affect it, said spokeswoman Heidi Schauer in an email to MSN. That’s an advantage most smaller rivals don’t have.
Still, Red Lobster has plenty of other problems. Sales in the third quarter fell 6% to $669 million even as it spent heavily on advertisements.
The lobster shortage comes a year after a record glut pushed prices so low that many lobstermen decided it wasn't worth putting their boats in the water.
Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter at @jdberr.
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