The New Yorker recently published an illuminating story exposing the odd psychological factors that contribute to lobster pricing. The crustacean is regarded as—and marketed by restaurants as if it were—a luxury good, yet huge lobster harvests (believed to be a result of global warming) have glutted the market, resulting in prices as low as $2.20 a pound off the boat.
“There’s more lobster out there right now than anyone knows what to do with, but we’re still paying for it as if it were a rare delicacy,” points out New Yorkercorrespondent James Surowiecki. So why are we willing to pay so much money for a food that is overabundant and incredibly cheap at wholesale price?
The first straightforward reason that restaurants aren’t marking down lobster prices is the inherent uncertainty of prices from year to year: “if a bad harvest next summer sent prices soaring, restaurants might find it hard to sell expensive lobster to customers who’d got used to cheap lobster.” The deeper reason, though, is that the price of lobster involves a ton of odd psychological factors.
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