Maine Lobstermen's Association kicks off new year with focus on lobster marketing

Mon, 01/18/2016 - 4:30pm

    On Jan. 6, the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) hosted the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative's executive director Matt Jacobson at its first monthly board meeting of 2016. The MLA, founded in 1954, is the state's oldest fishermen's organization. The MLA was instrumental in establishing the Collaborative in 2013.

    Lobstermen are reporting an excellent year for both volume of lobster landings and profit for the 2015 fishing season. This is in stark contrast to the steady decreases in profit the industry suffered after the economic crash of 2008, culminating in an epic decline in price during 2012. In an effort to stabilize and improve the price paid to lobstermen, the MLA worked with seafood dealers, processors and the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Marine Resources to create the Collaborative. Several MLA members serve on the Collaborative’s Board.

    Jacobson provided board members with an update on the Collaborative's accomplishments and its goals for 2016. As Jacobsen noted,“Ninety percent of Maine lobster sold nationally goes to restaurants. But we are only on the menu four percent of the time. And lobster of any kind is on the menu just 17 percent of the time. How can we change that?”

    The Collaborative’s response has been to focus on upscale casual restaurants where innovative chefs develop flavors and styles that can become mainstream. “Since chefs now look for fresh, local, and sustainable products, lobster is the ideal harvest. Chef and diners want to know where their food comes from. Chefs love to tell that story,” Jacobson explained.

    In 2015, the Collaborative brought chefs, restaurateurs and food journalists together with Maine lobstermen and lobster at hosted events in New York and Chicago. The gatherings were a hit. Many chefs ordered lobster on the spot. Jacobson plans to build on this success in 2016 by further connecting Maine lobstermen to the culinary world in New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. MLA board members will be trained in the art of communicating with the press and were invited by Jacobson to take part in the Collaborative's presentations in 2016.

    At the close of Jacobson's presentation, MLA member John Tripp remarked, "I had no idea they have already done so much to promote lobster.” Jacobson views lobstermen as shareholders in his organization's efforts to promote Maine lobster. “If fishermen are involved in telling the story then we can be successful. Lobstermen are the secret sauce,” he said.  

    For more information about the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, visit