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December 22, 2016

Global demand for lobster surges

Photo / Tim Greenway
Photo / Tim Greenway
Tom Adams, the founder, owner and CEO of Maine Coast in York, recently honored by Mainebiz as its 2016 medium-size fastest growing company, says exports have played a big role in the company's success.

Four years after a glut led to the cheapest lobsters since the 1980s, prices on average for lobster are up 37% this year and the highest on record going back decades.

But that hasn't dampened demand. Bloomberg reported that U.S. and Canadian fishermen are catching more lobster than ever in recent years, yet output hasn't kept pace with demand: Exports to China are surging and American restaurants increasingly are adding lobster to various dishes on their menus.

"The market now is outstripping the supply," Bernie Berry, president of the Yarmouth, Nova Scotia-based Cold Water Lobster Association, which represents fisherman in Canada, told Bloomberg.

That's a change from 2012, when a glut of lobsters on the market that were harvested in the Gulf of Maine drove prices down to the lowest lobstermen had seen in 18 years, making Maine lobster more attractive to people halfway around the world, according to the news service.

The Bloomberg report said that Canadian claw and knuckle meat — a commonly used in lobster rolls — averaged $28.31 per pound this month, up 7% from a year earlier and well above the 10-year December average of $17.85. In July, the average reached $29.44, the most ever.

In the United States, where most lobsters come from Maine, output for 2015 was 146 million pounds, more than any other country — below the record of 150 million pounds in 2013, but 66% higher than a decade earlier, and the catch in each of the past four years has been well-above average.

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