US lobster exports to China rocket

 
EXPORTS of live US lobster to China have soared, thanks to demand from the growing middle classes who regard the crustacean as a good luck symbol and a sign of prosperity.
According to FIS (Fish Information & Services), this trend keeps Maine lobstermen working even in winter, to supply this delicacy all year round, not just for the Lunar New Year.
One Maine wholesaler alone is sending 100,000 pounds of lobster to China each week.
The crustacean is placed live into crates and flown to China, where it is served for lunch or dinner for $50 to $100 in restaurants.
But Robert Bayer, of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, considers the price of American lobster very competitive.
‘The primary competition in Asia in general is lobster from Australia and New Zealand, which has always been priced much, much higher than American lobster,’ he said. ‘So we’re able to compete on price, big time.’
As well as the Antipodes, China also imports lobsters from Canada, South Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere, but the US variety dominates the market.
According to federal statistics, American lobster exports to China have increased from just over USD $2 million in 2009 to more than $90 million in 2014.
The state of Maine accounts for more than 80 per cent of all US lobster, representing more than 250 million pounds in 2012-13, and the highest two-year total in the record books.