High lobster prices lowering sales on P.E.I., say some restaurants
Buyers say increased demand outside Canada driving price up
Some P.E.I. restaurants say given the high price of lobster right now, it isn't likely to be a popular item on their menus this summer.
Lobster is selling at the wharf for a record $8/pound in Nova Scotia, and Island fishermen are anticipating a similar price on P.E.I. this season.
The co-owner of Peake's Quay Restaurant Liam Dolan says even last year, when the price averaged around $6.50/pound at the wharf on P.E.I., lobster was just too costly for many customers.
"We're moving down quite a bit in lobster sales, especially the lobster cold plates we used to do for $19.95," said Dolan. "We were down considerably last year, because we were charging $24."
'You might not see as many lobster dishes'
Buyers have told CBC it's not demand within Canada driving up the price of lobster, but in foreign markets, particularly Asia.
Dolan said as the price of lobster has increased in the past five years, he's scaled back the number of lobster dishes on his menu at Peake's Quay, and his other restaurants — the Olde Dublin Pub and Claddagh Oyster House.
"We used to have lobster stew, lobster poutine, you name it. We had all kinds," said Dolan. "Them days, they were huge. We had a huge amount of sales and people loved it. But now, with the price, you might not see as many lobster dishes on."
We used to have lobster stew, lobster poutine, you name it. We had all kinds.- Liam Dolan, Owner, Peake's Quay Restaurant
Steve Larkin, the owner of Lobster on the Wharf, said higher prices last year didn't deter sales at his restaurant and fish market.
He suspects tourists in particular are still willing to pay good money for lobster.
"I think whenever you have someone visiting the Island, they're looking as much for the experience as the product. So for them, they want to take that memory back with them," said Larkin.
"For locals, it'll be left to be determined what price they're willing to accept."
Price at Island wharfs still unknown
Larkin said the challenge is that whatever price Islanders and tourists are willing to pay has little bearing on price.
"Other markets are going to determine what the price is," said Larkin. "Whether Islanders are buying as much lobster personally isn't going to have that much effect on what that final price is at the end of the day."
Some P.E.I. fishermen told CBC they will know early next week how much they're getting for their lobster, when they see their first financial statement of the season.
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