The chain of lobster shacks hopes to increase domestic demand.
Credit: Courtesy of Luke's Lobster

While there are many faux and less-than-legit food holidays out there, some are officially tacked onto the calendar by either declaration or an act of Congress. As of July, National Lobster Day has once again been added to that latter category as a resolution marking September 25, 2018 as a national day of crustacean observance was unanimously passed by the United States Senate for the third year in a row. The purpose of the holiday is to recognize the importance of American lobster as a national delicacy and globally-exported commodity. However, this year’s National Lobster Day happens to fall one day after what one chain of lobster restaurants is deeming a rather dour turn of events for the lobster fishing industry.

On Monday, September 24, the Trump administration is set to impose $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods. As a result, China has threatened a retaliatory 25-percent tariff hike on American exports. According to a statement from Luke’s Lobster, that $60 billion retaliation essentially closes off the Chinese market for the Maine lobster industry, resulting in sales loss of a 16 percent of the annual haul, based on last year’s export figures.

To combat that deficit, Luke’s will try to increase domestic demand for lobster in its own way by indefinitely lowering the price of its original lobster roll from $17 to $16 at all of its 29 shacks located in ten states around the country. But that’s not the only price drop coming to Luke’s Lobster in the near future. From National Lobster Day (September 25) through October 1, the price will drop again to the original 2009 menu price of just $14 to celebrate Luke's ninth anniversary.

"Chinese exports have contributed huge demand for Maine lobster in recent years, and the tariffs stemming from this trade war are now gutting that business for our fishermen,” Luke’s Lobster co-founder Ben Conniff told Food & Wine via email. “That means we need to remind folks at home of just how amazing Maine lobster is, kind of like we did in 2009, at the depths of the recession. $14 lobster rolls are our way of celebrating what we think is the greatest food in the world with as many people as possible, right at the peak of Maine lobster season."

According to information supplied by Luke’s Lobster, Maine lobster contributes $1 billion to the U.S. economy. Last year, lobstermen hauled in 110.8 million pounds of lobster, 17.8 million of which were sent to China.