Years ago, only people living close to the ocean could enjoy a delicious, fresh-cooked lobster meal. Online orders and delivery services mean dozens of companies ship live lobster across the country, arriving at your dinner table no more than 72 hours after harvest. The important question – Where can I buy lobster? – is easy to answer, even for those living away from the coast.

With so many options, it can be difficult to know which companies provide the best product. As an online customer, your only choice is to hunt for information. If you’re looking for the best place to buy lobster online, our profiles of live lobster delivery companies is an easy way to learn more about a company and product. Then, you can take a few of the most promising companies and use our cost comparison tool for live Maine lobster before placing an order.

Ensuring the quality of your purchase can be as simple as checking the website or calling a customer service line, but you first need to know which questions to ask. These tips for how to buy lobster online will help you get the product you want at a competitive price.

Look for Variety

For lobster companies, product variety is often an indicator of legitimacy. If a company offers to sell only lobster parts, like tails or claws, it can be difficult to know whether they source the lobsters themselves. Only selling parts may also indicate less freshness, as it is more difficult to figure out when the lobster was caught. Put simply, if a company only sells lobster parts, you have reason to question the product’s quality.

If, however, a company provides a variety of lobster parts—live lobsters, claws, legs, tails, and meat—there is a greater chance that the company has harvested the fish themselves, thus providing a better freshness guarantee. Even if you only want to buy lobster tails, check to see if the company offers a live or whole option before placing an order.

Ask About Sustainability and Accreditation

A company’s quality is often reflected in its adherence to sustainability. Think of it this way: If a company is looking to make a lot of money in a short amount of time, they have few reasons to fish sustainably because there is little care for the long-term survival of the species. By contrast, companies that care about the quality of their product have a vested interest in long-term relationships with customers. They want to be in business for as long as possible, and so they contribute to overall fish and oceanic health by implementing sustainability measures. If you want to buy lobster online, you should ask about the company’s investment in the survival of their product.

This is a simple process if you want to buy lobster from Maine. In 2011, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute created the Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested brand to communicate a quality guarantee to customers. If a company displays this brand on their website, you can be sure that:

  • The product was sourced from the Gulf of Maine region, which spans from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod.
  • The fishery itself is managed in such a way that it contributes to long-term fish health; in other words, they don’t overfish or use harmful harvesting methods.
  • The company has committed to improving the seafood industry’s sustainability.

If you don’t see this brand, look for or ask about the Marine Stewardship Council Fisheries Standard, which guarantees that the fishery has met the rigorous sustainability requirements set out by the Maine Certified Sustainable Lobster Association. You can also check with the local Lobster Zone Council or the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to see if your provider is legitimate. The State of Maine has very strict laws governing lobstering, and these regulatory bodies ensure providers are working sustainably.

Assessing Your Purchase’s Quality Before Cooking

While you won’t know the quality of a purchase until it arrives, you can always call to request a refund if something goes wrong. Do not hesitate to do this if you suspect the lobster has been stored for longer than the company website claims.

If a lobster has been in captivity for a long period of time, they will eat their antennae, which will then regrow. Checking these appendages is an easy way to assess the quality and freshness of your lobster. Lobsters are born with two long and two short antennae; if you count more than four total, the lobster has likely been stored inside a tank for a long time. This is unacceptable if the company guarantees a fast ocean-to-table turnaround. Furthermore, you can request a refund if any of the live lobsters have died in transit or if the meat has spoiled.