Note: For the most current price of Maine lobster, click here.
The price of lobster in Maine is in constant fluctuation, depending on supply and demand. Supply is influenced by the seasons, with warmer weather and water temperatures triggering greater activity amongst lobsters. Demand spikes over the summer holidays and during festive periods including the Fourth of July, Christmas, New Years, Chinese New Year and Easter.
The boat price of lobster in Cutler, Maine, where my family live and fish, is currently $4.60. This is a slight improvement from the price lobster fishermen were paid last year (in mid-June 2014, the Cutler boat price for lobster was $4.25). The ocean is slightly colder this season than last which is leading to less movement among the lobster. As the waters warm, the lobster catch will pick up and the price will begin to drop.
UPDATE: As we head towards the end of June, the boat price of lobster has taken another jump – to $4.75 in Cutler where my family fish. I am curious to see if this price will hold through the Forth of July when the price of lobster is historically a bit higher than average.
Of course, the price fishermen are paid for their lobster (called the ‘boat price’) is different from the market price, which is the price the end consumer pays for lobster. The current market price for lobster in Maine (at least at the Hanniford grocery store in Machias) is $7.99 per pound. The market price for Maine lobster sold online is roughly $9.25 per pound. A lobster sold at a boat price of $4.60 might cost over $20 when it’s put on your dinner plate in a restaurant.
For the most part, the price of lobster and the volume of the Maine lobster catch are inversely related. The lobster price comes to a peak in February and March, when catches are at their annual low. In the autumn, when catches reach their peak, fishermen are paid the lowest lobster prices of the year.
Most Maine lobstermen ‘belong to’ or ‘fish for’ one dealer or cooperative and sell their catch exclusively to that dealer or co-op for a specific boat price. In exchange the lobsterman is given a guaranteed market for all his lobster. The dealer or cooperative will then store and distribute the lobsters – to another wholesaler or a retailer. Each time the lobster changes hands, the price of that lobster goes up.
For information on the price of lobster in Maine this October, click here. For more insight into the lobster season in Maine, click here.