Iceland caused something of a splash this Christmas, when it revealed that it would offer a luxury fish range - including a whole Canadian lobster for just £5. However, the store has admitted that it is struggling to keep up with demand, and in many stores, there's no lobster to be seen.
The run on Iceland lobsters was spotted by Thisismoney, which quoted two readers who couldn't find any in their local stores. The publication then checked two stores in London and came back empty-handed.
Iceland told the reporter that: "The £5 lobster has been a tremendously popular product, and sales have exceeded our initial expectations by more than 200%. As a result we have been struggling to keep up with demand and this does mean that it has been off sale in some of our stores for periods of time."
It confirmed there had been deliveries this week and stores would receive more lobsters - but that they were expected to sell out quickly because it was a great deal. The report speculated as to whether it had been a marketing gimmick intended to drive people into stores hunting for lobsters which they were always going to struggle to find.
However, this seems unlikely. For a start if you were Iceland and trying to attract new middle class shoppers for Christmas, would you set up a promotion which would bring them in off the street only to immediately disappoint them and send them out again?
And why would you bother with such a rouse, when lobsters are available for so little elsewhere on the high street at the moment?
The fact is that there has been an Atlantic lobster glut, as global temperatures rise and create a better environment for lobsters to grow in. In addition, overfishing means lobsters have fewer natural predators and have been able to flourish in much larger numbers. A combination of these factors has led to oversupply of American and Canadian lobsters, so the wholesale price has come down dramatically - and is 70% off its peak.
It means that is if you're after a bargain lobster, you could try Asda, which has priced its whole Canadian cooked lobster at £5; Lidl, which is offering a whole cooked lobster for £5.99; or Tesco, which has reduced the price of its frozen whole blanched lobster from £8 to £6 at the moment. Waitrose, meanwhile, has cut the price of its large whole coked Canadian lobster from £9.99 to £7.47. In fact, Sainsbury's is one of the few charging £10 for a whole raw lobster.
It seems that this is the season for cheap lobster, so if you were tempted by the Iceland adverts, and disappointed with the empty shelves, there are plenty of other places to get your bargain crustaceans.
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