Bad weather and crop shortages are just some of the reasons why lobster, wine and mushrooms prices are going up
Slow your lobster roll.
The price of lobster has skyrocketed to nearly double the cost per pound, due to bad weather plaguing New England in recent months preventing fishermen from going out on the water as consumer demand rises.
“The supply has been frozen up a little bit, literally,” Matt Jacobson, executive director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, told Moneyish. “This winter and spring have been really cold and icy in the Northeast; you haven’t seen as much supply because boats just haven’t been able to go out. It’s an outdoor sport — it’s not a farm.”
Whole hard-shell lobster prices have gone up to $16 per pound this spring compared to last year’s cost of around $7 to $10 per pound, chefs and seafood suppliers told Moneyish.
“We’ve actually taken our lobster dishes off the dinner menu,” Boston-based chef Chris Coombs said of paying up to $16 per pound for lobster. Eaters can only get chilled lobster at his steakhouse restaurant, Boston Chops, when they order the seafood tower appetizer ($69 to $99).
At Coombs’ French restaurant, Deuxave, in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the price of his staple Scituate lobster and gnocchi dish went up from $21 to $37. And a lobster roll now costs $49 instead of $22.
Another reason lobster has been scarce this time of year is that Massachusetts South Shore fisheries are mostly closed until April 30 to allow the endangered right whale species to feed, delaying fishermen from catching the clawed crustacean, explained Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. As a result, she said, there’s been a dependence instead on Canadian lobster, which is also experiencing icy fishing conditions contributing to the overall shortage.
International demand from Asia has been another driving force in the lobster market. China imported more than $108 million in lobsters from the U.S. last year, surpassing the previous high of about $90.2 million in 2014, the Associated Press reported.
Paying more for lobster isn’t the only thing foodies can expect to whine about. The cost of wine is reportedly increasing, too, with the lowest slump in global vino production in 60 years since 2017, according to data from the International Organization of Vine and Wine. The most recent harvest produced 25 billion liters of wine, down from 26.7 billion in 2016 and 27.6 billion in 2015 due to weak harvests in major markets in Europe and South Africa. The shortage has resulted in the price of basic Italian wine skyrocketing 74% over the previous year, according to the European Commission. Meanwhile, wine prices are up 45% in Spain and more than 10% in France.
And following the recent mushroom coffee craze, said to help with diabetes and lower the risk of cancer, a mushroom shortage is apparently underway. Domestic growers harvested one billion pounds of mushrooms in 2016, up from 861.8 million pounds six years earlier, according to the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Mushroom Council, and the market is struggling to keep up with demand.
With Memorial Day — the unofficial start of summer — nearly a month away, Jacobson is confident that lobster prices will at least decrease once the weather warms up.
“I think it’s very short-lived. Lobster prices always go up this time of year, and this year is just happened to be more pronounced because of the weather,” he assures. “You’ll still be able to have your lobster roll this summer.”
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