Lobster Prices Have Risen So Sharply That Many Restaurants Are Taking It Off the Menu

by Jonathan Howard

Right now, lobster prices have restaurants feelings the heat and that means that many are taking the crustacean off the menu. The places that still have it listed are dealing with sticker shock from customers. It’s not all about the supply, either. There has been a high demand and while the prices might be good for lobstermen out in Maine, it hasn’t been good for the restaurants affected.

Just to give you an idea of what kind of prices we are talking about, the Maine Department of Marine Resources has kept track of prices in the state. Local lobstermen were selling catches right from the boats in 2021 for $6.71 a pound. When compared to the depressed prices of 2020, that’s a 59% increase. Going back to 2019, it is still a huge increase of 39%.

While the supply of lobster has gone up prices for restaurants have also gone up due to the fact that demand has soared faster than the supply. It just isn’t enough.

108 million pounds of lobster were caught in Maine in 2021. While the total increased from 102 million pounds in 2019, there has been a drop-off since the early 2010s. Maine, of course, is known for lobster everything. However, even the lobster capital of the United States can’t produce the supply that the public is demanding.

According to Washingtonian magazine, restaurant owners are struggling to cope. At the D.C.-based steakhouse, The Prime Rib, prices have gone way up. A two-pound lobster is running customers $100. Then again, an 8 oz. cut of USDA Prime Filet Mignon will run you $60, while other cuts run up to $102.

Lobster Prices Rise for Restaurants After Maine Steps in to Help Fishermen

The Gulf of Maine is where a lot of lobster fishing is done. There were some recent rule changes that were set up in order to help protect rare whales in the area. Of course, the preservation of wildlife should take precedence over human consumption. However, the state made sure to invest $30 million in order to help these fishermen while they adapt.

With an influx of money like that, there will be a number of things that it can be used for. Lobstermen will be able to use the funds to help with mortgage payments, boat payments, nets, gear, and other purchases. Keeping the industry alive is one of the goals of the fund.

“The lobster industry is an economic driver of our local economy, hands down,” Rep. Holly Stover said. “This is not a fisheries disaster, this is an economic disaster.”

So, the lobster industry has been getting some help. However, they just can’t keep up with the demand that consumers have this year.