If you’re buying seafood online, you may think that finding cheap lobster is always the goal. Lobster, especially when purchased online, can be very expensive. Finding corners to cut may feel like a small victory, allowing you to buy more product or save money on what you need. However, we want to warn customers against buying lobster at prices that seem too good to be true. A number of factors may be at play, but in most cases, you’ll be getting an inferior product while continuing to pay a premium for shipping.
What Cheap Lobster Actually Means
There are many reasons that can explain why lobster can be cheap. Unfortunately, many have to do with false advertising and the quality of the meat. If the price of a lobster or piece of meat seems too good to be true, it’s likely due to one of the following causes.
- Cold Water vs. Warm Water – In the simplest terms, cold-water lobsters are what you want to purchase. Warm-water lobsters are cheaper by around $5 per pound, but they won’t provide the lobster taste and texture you’re looking for. Here, the meat very rarely solidifies while cooking, and you may notice a slight ammonia odor. Some sellers may try to sell warm-water lobsters as their cold water cousins, reaping the per-pound benefits of the pricier option. Identifying the difference between cold-water and warm-water lobsters is easy when you’re buying a live crustacean, but it can be difficult if you’re purchasing tails or claws. If you see lobster meat at an unbelievably low price, you may actually be purchasing a lower-quality warm-water lobster.
- Glazing – If you see a heavy lobster tail at a very low price, glazing could be to blame. This practice, which has been identified in several areas of the seafood product industry, involves injecting water between the shell and the meat prior to freezing. This forms a layer of ice at the surface of the frozen product. Glazing can sometimes be used to protect fish meat from oxidizing in a freezer, but when it comes to shellfish, its primary use is to add weight to an otherwise small piece of lobster.
- Expiration Date – This potential cause is seen throughout the food industry – with meat products, shelf-stable foods, and produce. If a lobster, either live or frozen, is close to its expiration date, the company will likely try to sell it at a discount rather than taking a loss. This typically applies to meat that has been frozen for between 4 and 5 months. It can also apply to lobster that has lived in captivity for a long time rather than being freshly caught. If you have questions about the freshness of your purchase, contact your provider’s customer service line.
No matter which option you think is causing a provider’s low pricing, don’t waste your money. With seafood, you get what you pay for. Cheap lobster will almost always be of lower quality and/or close to spoiling. In some cases, the lobster provider may advertise low per-pound rates, then inflate the shipping cost to make up the difference. Live lobster may not be live by the time it reaches your front door. We encourage customers to look for options that best fit their budgets, but if you’re spending money on cheap lobster, you’re better off opting to put that money toward a nicer dinner sometime down the road.
How to Find Good but Cheap Lobster Online
While customers should steer clear of cheap lobster, we know that price is a primary concern for most buyers. After all, lobster is a luxury product, and paying to have the crustaceans shipped to your door can incur a significant cost. Luckily, learning how to buy lobster online can be easy.
If you’re worried about price, there are certain strategies you can employ to reduce your per-pound rate. Lobster is a highly seasonal product, which means you’ll get the best-quality crustacean for the lowest possible price during peak fishing times. In the United States, this means the winter months will yield the best lobster prices. Additionally, if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, consider buying lobster in bulk. While we don’t recommend doing this for live lobsters, lobster meat and parts can last around 6 months in a freezer. You’ll end up paying more overall, but you may end up saving money on shipping costs. Some lobster providers have discounts and deals for large orders, so talk to your company about current promotions.