Maine lobster industry told to brand its product to increase prices

A lobster tries to crawl out of a crowded crate in a dealer's shack on Widgery Wharf in Portland.
Robert F. Bukaty | BDN
A lobster tries to crawl out of a crowded crate in a dealer's shack on Widgery Wharf in Portland.
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted June 14, 2012, at 9:27 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — The Maine wild blueberry industry has successfully marketed its product over the past decade and the Maine lobster industry may need to do the same thing if it wants to see the price for the state’s most valuable seafood increase.

About 50 lobstermen turned out Thursday evening at Oceanside High School to hear a presentation called “Project Maine Lobster.” The meeting was organized by the Maine Lobster Advisory Council. An earlier meeting had been held in Yarmouth and more are planned along the coast.

“This came out of the frustration when the bottom dropped out of prices in 2008. We’re not any better off today,” Bob Baines of South Thomaston, chairman of the advisory council, said.

Baines noted bait prices have more than doubled during the past year and fuel prices have tripled.

One way to increase prices is to increase demand and that is where marketing is being proposed.

Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher noted that any marketing plan will need the support of the industry before it would be introduced as legislation by the administration and sent on to the Legislature.

Gov. Paul LePage is a supporter of branding Maine products, Keliher noted.

John Sauve of the advertising and marketing company Food and Wellness Group said the right marketing can increase demand which would help push up the price of lobsters.

“It’s an iconic product for the state of Maine,” Sauve said.

He said when marketing surveys are done outside Maine, lobster is the No. 1 answer when people are asked what they identify with Maine.

“Lobster without question blows away any other answer,” he said.

Sauve pointed out that the Maine wild blueberry industry has successfully marketed it product and even though there has been a large increase in production, demand also has increased dramatically.

Lobster landings set a record last year in Maine at 104 million pounds with harvesters paid $331 million. The price per pound paid to lobstermen last year was $3.19, which is down from the record of $4.63 in 2005 and much less than the $4.39 per pound price paid in 2007, before the start of the Great Recession.

Another presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, June 18, at the University of Maine at Machias and the final one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, at Ellsworth High School.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/06/14/business/maine-lobster-industry-told-to-brand-its-product-to-increase-prices/ printed on September 15, 2014