High lobster prices linked to market demand, bad weather

Seafood analyst John Sackton says high demand and bad weather are the reason lobster prices are staying high this season.

A cold May with many storms and wind helped keep the price of lobsters high

Demand for whole, cooked lobster in the food service sector is one factor keeping prices high. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Are you wondering why lobster prices are so high this year? Lobster prices are at their highest ever for the time period from the end of May into early June.

Island fishermen are getting $6 to $7 a pound for canners, and $6.50 to $7.50 a pound for markets.

Seafood industry analyst John Sackton sees two factors keeping the price up. High demand and bad weather have helped drive the price up and keep it there, he said.

Island fishermen are getting $6 to $7 a pound for canners, and $6.50 to $7.50 a pound for market lobsters.

"Particularly the cold May and the many storms and winds have really cut down on the landings," said Sackton.

"We've just never got into a situation where the volume of landings coming ashore got ahead of the demand or what the processors needed to buy." 

Sackton, editor and publisher of, which comes out of Lexington, Massachusetts, told CBC News he has been talking to lobster dealers throughout the Maritimes to get information on the lobster fishery.

In a normal season, said Sackton, there is a period of very high prices and lack of inventory and lack of live lobsters in the April time period — just before the start of the season. Then during the first few weeks of May when the season opens, there are questions of how will the season go as fishermen, buyers and dealers wait to see how the good the catches will be.

"Often that will tend to keep the prices higher in the first couple of weeks of the season," he said.

"What happened this year was the pressures that were keeping the prices high never let up really."  

Pressures kept price high

The food service industry is after whole, cooked lobsters and lobster tails, and that has kept demand high, said Sackton.

"It's these new markets that are pushing up the price, and when there's not a lot of landings there's few opportunities to have lower price lobsters," he said.

It wasn't all clear sailing in May, and that kept catches down. (CBC)

Sackton added lobster prices will likely not drop to the low prices seen in 2012 thanks to the new markets and the trade agreement with Europe.  

While he can't predict the future, Sackton said the expanded market demand is a good thing for the industry. 

"When you have what the economists call a demand-led expansion, it means you don't go back to the old prices. It means that somehow the value of your product has achieved a more permanent increase," he said.

Sackton said as long as currency and demand stay where it is, the value of the lobster will continue to be high. 

With files from Maggie Brown