When it comes to picking a lobster, you’re probably mostly concerned with things like size and price. But a new campaign from the Maine lobster industry is encouraging consumers to take another part of the lobster into consideration: the shell.
“Shedders” is the nickname for recently molted lobsters—those that have shed their old shells for a new one. According to the Concord Monitor, “old shell” lobsters tend to be the preferred crustaceans, selling for higher prices in restaurants and stores. But the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative, a group sponsored by Maine’s lobster fishermen, is trying to encourage people to see shedders not as worse but simply different.
At the forefront of this campaign is a rebranding. Beyond a lower price point, these “Maine new shell lobsters,” as the collaborative is now calling them, have a sweeter, brinier taste with more tender flesh and are easier to prepare than hard shell lobsters, they claim. Detractors present a number of cons, saying they have less meat and can be watery on the inside. They also have trouble traveling, which can present problems outside of Maine.
But there are certainly plenty of new shell lobsters to go around. “About 70 percent of the lobster landed in Maine is soft shell,” reports the Monitor, “and it tends to be a much higher percentage in the summer months, when many lobsters are shedding.” And the Maine lobster industry is looking for new ways to turn a profit. The state has seen tons of stock over the last four years that has helped lead to an overall decrease in price.
Whether you want to buy into the new hype or not, if you weren’t familiar with new shell lobsters before, it’s at least something to look out for, at the very least so that you know just what kind of lobster you’re getting.