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Strong demand, high prices driving McLobster right off McDonald's menu


ALBERTON , P.EI. - There’s good reason for lobster prices in P.E.I. and Atlantic Canada to be strong this year, says the executive director of the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association.  

 “Based on all the information we can glean, there seems to be a very, very healthy market for lobster and lobster products from the region,” Dennis King said. “That’s a good thing.”

He said prices are as good as they’ve ever been.

While prices vary from port to port and buyer to buyer, indications are they are averaging out at over $6.00 a pound for canners and $6.50 a pound and higher for markets. Less than four years ago fishermen received around $3.00 a pound for canners.

A strong economy in the United States, Canada’s primary trading partner, coupled with the high US currency benefits exports from Atlantic Canada, he pointed out.

Reputation also helps, he suggested. “We process and produce the best lobster products in the world right here in P.E.I., so people are taking notice.”

Those strong prices, however, have resulted in McDonald’s restaurants keeping its traditional McLobster sandwich off of its Atlantic Canada summertime menu this year. 

Anne-Julie Maltais, Eastern region communications manager for McDonald’s Canada, said by email that price is the only reason the McLobster is not on the menu. “We are committed to offering Canadians quality and affordable food, and the increased price of lobster per pound means that we are currently unable to offer this menu item at a reasonable price for our guests,” she said. Maltais indicated the sandwich was on the menu for more than 25 years and was popular.

While King doesn’t anticipate McDonald’s decision having an impact on any of the P.E.I. processors, he admitted they’d love to have the franchise promoting lobster. “You never want to see a national chain like that not offer the product, but there are indications across Canada and across North America and across the world that there is a demand for lobsters,” he said. Pointing out a growing number of restaurants in P.E.I., across Atlantic Canada and beyond are offering lobster specials on their menus. “And that’s a good thing,” he said.

“All the indications are the market is healthy; the market is strong for lobster and we hope that continues.”  

King didn’t have access to overall May landings but suggested fishermen had to contend with weather-related challenges which might have kept catches off.

Ian MacPherson, general manager of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association said catches did show an improvement last week but are being described as “spotty” in some ports this week.

“From the processing standpoint, we are business as usual,” King said; “we are going at full-bore right now and everybody seems to have their head down and getting the work done.”

King admitted processors could still use a few more workers but he pointed out progress has been made in that regard.

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