Darden Restaurants, the owner of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and LongHorn Steakhouse chains, announced last spring that it was investing in the world’s first commercial lobster farm in Malaysia. In an analyst conference today, the restaurant operator explained that it “sees global demand for lobster exceeding supply.”
Since there isn’t a limitless supply of lobsters in the wild, growing lobsters in captivity will increase the supply. The company hopes this will drive down prices for consumers and provide a buffer against the rising cost of seafood.
According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Sandra Pedicini, Darden has partnered with a Malaysian group on a 23,000-acre aquaculture park.
“After several years of research and investment in hatchery technology, we selected Malaysia as the site, as we intend to grow a species of spiny lobster known as panulirus ornatus indigenous to the region. While we’re excited about the prospects for this initiative, it will be several years (2017) before it’s operational and even longer (2029) before production is expected to reach scale,” Darden said in a 2012 report.
Spiny lobsters, also known as rock lobsters, are distinguished by their lack of claws and short spines. In comparison to true lobster (Maine lobster), it’s more mild and bland.
By 2029, the company plans to produce up to 40 million pounds of spiny lobster with annual revenue of $ 1 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
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