So I had a little conversation on Twitter last night with Alec Maybarduk about whether Darden’s move to raise their own rock lobsters would actually affect the price of lobster across the market.
This all came about when Alec retweeted our post on Darden’s and added “bad news 4 ME lobstermen.” I responded, “actually, they’re raising rock lobster, which don’t come from Maine. Darden’s said they’ll continue to buy ME lobster.”
To which he replied: “actually, langostino has already cut into maine lobster even tho it’s a crab, i see a real threat of downward price pressure here.”
When I asked Bob Bayer of the Maine Lobster Institute whether the aquafarms would lower prices, he said rock lobster is “not something that’s really competitive; it’s an entirely different lobster,” than the Maine lobster we’re used to. “It’s almost like a different market,” he added. Additionally, Darden’s spokesman said the company has no plans to stop buying Maine lobster.
I understand Alec’s argument: More lobster on the market — regardless of the variety — will naturally lead to lower prices in the aggregate. But the counterargument is that the demand for Maine lobster is relatively inelastic; it doesn’t matter what else is on the market, people will always want and need the iconic and irreplaceable clawed lobster.
What do you guys think? Will more rock lobster lead to lower prices for Maine lobster?