Fresh Lobster Suddenly Way More Affordable in the Wake of Coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic has a pretty peculiar silver lining: More affordable fresh lobster.
Bloomberg is reporting that the price of fresh lobster has dropped precipitously due to the effects that have come from the coronavirus scare. That's right, thank COVID-19 for your ability to eat fresh lobster for a lot less money now.
Why have lobster prices dipped to the lowest in at least four years? Well, orders from Asia have almost totally halted at a time when sales usually boom for Chinese New Year celebrations.
"The fallout has left thousands of pounds of unsold lobster flooding North American markets and squeezing U.S. businesses that were already hurting from lost sales due to China’s tariffs from its trade war with Washington.
'This is like a fatal blow,' said Stephanie Nadeau, owner of Arundel, Maine-based The Lobster Co., which saw orders to Hong Kong shrivel from about 1,000 boxes a week to a total of 120 boxes — each carrying 33 pounds — since late January. 'I’m about to lay off most of my employees.'
The U.S. used to be the main supplier of live lobster to China as exporters tapped into surging demand from the Asian nation’s growing middle class. Buyers turned to relatively cheaper supply from Canada after Beijing placed retaliatory tariffs on American crustaceans in 2018."
The low lobster prices apply to both U.S. coasts: Maine lobster and spiny lobster harvested on the West Coast.
While the price drop has been good news for gourmet diners, it has sent shockwaves throughout the lobster industry. Supply of the delicious crustaceans has not changed, but since the demand has dropped, so too has revenue for lobster harvesters.
Anecdotally, lobsters were not always considered the expensive delicacy they are today. A century ago, there was at least one prison riot in Maine due to prisoners fed up with only being fed lobster because the "sea bug" was so plentiful and cheap.