Sunday, December 30, 2012

price of lobster in Nova Scotia

Right now at Sobeys here in the peak buying season lobster is on for $5 a pound. The grocery store price is now the same as the roadside folks selling lobster off the backs of their trucks.

I suppose it's possible this is some Machiavellian scheme by the major grocery chains to put the apparently unlicensed, unregulated independent roadsiders who sprung up the last couple of years out of business and restore the traditional retail model. I don't believe that though.

The problem with lobster is that there are too many fishermen bringing in too much catch. With excess supply the hit is on price per pound. The roots of this go back to the US financial crisis from 2007. In the period 2000-2007 house prices were constantly rising and it was easy to convert on paper gains into real cash through home equity loans. This housing wealth allowed many of the American middle and lower middle class to "live big" and premium lobster at Christmas was one of many luxuries they enjoyed.

Today and for the last few years only the really well to do in America are inclined to splurge on imported Atlantic lobster. A weak US dollar hasn't helped either.

So what to do? This year, like several previous years, there was a "strike" at the beginning of the lobster season as a protest to disappointing wharf prices. It worked to an extent. Choking supply for a few days did nudge prices up - until everyone then went back to their boats to sea. The long term solution is to permanently choke off the lobster supply. That is, there needs to be fewer boats on the water bringing in less catch collectively. So it's on DFO to reduce quota, cancel and buy out lobster licenses.

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