PLYMOUTH (CBS) – They’re lining up for lobster in New England as one local supermarket charges $4.99/pound, but it’s not the only place lobster prices are dropping.
That’s good news for consumers, but not so good for the people who catch the tasty crustacean. Monday we found out what’s behind the price drop, and whether the new tariff war is playing a role.
Lobsters are priced to move at Market Basket in Plymouth, and they’re moving like crazy.
“I usually don’t buy lobsters that often because they’re too expensive, but today I’m buying three,” said shopper Erin Walsh.
At a special promotional price of $4.99/pound this week, Market Basket may not be making much profit, but lobster is affordable all over.
“Lobster prices are on their way down,” said Beth Casoni, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. She says the price drop is typical at this time of year when lower priced soft shell lobsters are abundant.
“That’s due to the increased fishing efforts, and also there’s an influx of Canadian lobsters into our market,” Casoni said. That means even though demand is up in the summer, so is supply.
“Some of the weeks it goes from $5 to $4.50 to $4.25. So now we’re down to $4.25,” said Scituate lobsterman Prainert Ames.
But there’s a new wild card; the tariff war between the United States and China, with China slapping a 25% tariff on a lot of products, including Lobster.
“The impact will have a negative impact on the lobstermen because ultimately they are the lowest paid on that food chain, and ultimately the dealers and the processors are not going to absorb that 25% loss,” Casoni said.
At the Cohasset Lobster Pound, business is good supplying local restaurants and markets, but the owner, Tommy Alioto, says the price drop may not be over. “The price might go down another 20-cents, 25-cents,” he said.
The full effect of the tariffs is something we won’t know for a while. But the Lobstermen’s Assoc. is concerned enough that they’re working with some of the Mass. congressional delegation to see if lobster harvesters can get any federal help.