Wednesday 17 January 2018

Lobster 'catch price' plummets but it's still dearest choice on the menu

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

THE price of lobster has plummeted -- but you will shell out a lot for it in a restaurant.

Fishermen claim they are receiving between €9 and €15 per kilo for lobster.

However, some top restaurants charge up to €70 per kilo.

Prices for lobster fluctuate throughout the year.

Explaining the huge gap in prices, restaurants claim that "big buyers" who purchase up to 90pc of the product, mainly for export, control the price and are able to set it low in the summer months when shellfish is plentiful.

The recession has impacted hugely on the price fishermen receive.

Up to 90pc of Irish shellfish is exported but buyers in countries such as Spain are looking to cheaper imports from nations like Vietnam.

Timmy Mason, owner of the Out of the Blue seafood restaurant in Dingle, Co Kerry, says that over the year the price he pays peaks at €28.50/kg, but never goes below €14/kg in summer.

Mr Mason told the Irish Independent:: "The guy that fixes the low price is the big buyer and they're strong in how they can set the price but all of this is for export.

"These things are not falling off the boats for nothing and lobster will be the most expensive thing on most people's menus."

Sea Fisheries Protection Authority officer Kevin Flannery appealed to restaurateurs to "play ball" with the fishermen and either pay them a higher price or lower the charge to diners.

"It's no longer a luxury item so how can the restaurants justify the huge mark-ups they charge? It's ridiculous," he said.

Celebrity chef Martin Shanahan who runs the Fishy Fishy Restaurant in Kinsale, Co Cork, says: "There's still not a huge demand for lobster in Ireland because people look at the price of it on menus and see €40 or €50 for 500g and they say that's too expensive."

The chef at Dublin's Michelin starred Chapter One, Ross Lewis, agrees that consumer demand isn't there.

While lobster does appear on his menu, he points out it's only part of a dish in a set menu price of €65.

Meanwhile, the first scallops were plucked from the seabed on Valentia Island off Kerry over the weekend ahead of the King Scallop Festival in early July.

Irish Independent

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