Lobster prices were in a huge bubble back in 2007. The price of a lobster roll rose to astronomical levels both in Manhattan and in summery spots like the Hamptons and Nantucket. No doubt the bubble fed over-investment and over-borrowing. Guess what happens next...
It’s been a volatile season that saw the lobster industry become another casualty of the global recession.
As consumers tightened their spending, demand for lobsters dropped. The credit squeeze hurt processing companies in Canada, which supply lobsters to restaurants, hotels and supermarkets worldwide. That led to a glut of the 10-legged crustaceans and a drop in prices.
“It all comes down to economics,” says Bob Bayer of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine. “People are not eating out. Lobster is a celebration food, and people are not celebrating as much.”
“It’s been a laser point of attention showing how the world economy can impact local people,” says George Lapointe, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.
To help struggling lobstermen, Maine, which lands more lobster than any other state — 64 million pounds in 2007 — set up a program in October that helps banks restructure business loans for those falling behind on payments. So far, applications for seven of Maine’s 5,800 lobstermen have been approved and 14 are being processed.
Civic groups and others in coastal communities, trying to drum up business for the lobstermen, sold lobsters for as little as $3 each on docks, in markets and out of the back of pickups. Car dealerships, hardware stores and other businesses gave them away in promotions, says Patrice McCarron of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
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