Serving up Maine lobster is paying off big for restaurants that tout the state’s iconic offering on their menus.
Restaurants selling lobster are charging $6.22 more, on average, when it comes from Maine and its provenance is identified by name on the menu, according to a new report issued Tuesday by the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. The Portland-based nonprofit, which was founded in 2013 and is funded by industry license surcharges, based its finding on a 2015 menu survey of about 7,000 American restaurants conducted by Technomic Inc., a food consulting and research firm based in Chicago, said Executive Director Matt Jacobson.
“There’s lobster, and then there’s Maine lobster,” Jacobson said. “People are willing to pay for that difference. Not just pennies more, but $6 more a plate, plus. Chefs are drawn to the taste, the story and sustainability of Maine lobster. When chefs like to cook it, customers are willing to pay for it. That’s good for everybody, including the lobstermen.”
The Technomic data contained in the collaborative’s first quarterly report proves what many in the industry have long suspected, but couldn’t prove because of a lack of consumer research, especially in the domestic market, Jacobson said. It will serve as another tool in the collaborative’s arsenal when it begins its summer-long campaign to convince chefs to add Maine lobster to their menus. Only a quarter of all restaurants identify the origin of their lobster dishes, he said, but most of those who do are selling Maine lobster.