Can We Build a Sustainable Lobster Sandwich?

Guest contribution by Stewart Lamont

Good Day Dave Murray and McDonald’s Atlantic Canada Region:

Two weeks ago, for the first time ever, I purchased a McLobster sandwich at the McDonald’s on Main Street in Dartmouth.

Lamont's Receipt for the McLobster

Lamont’s receipt for the McLobster

Goodness knows why I had not done so previously. As a lobster exporter shipping to 18 countries around the world, I should have supported your lobster program long ago. Shame on me.

I picked up the McLobster sandwich. And amazingly it started “raining lettuce.” Lettuce shreds I mean. It was astonishing. At ten o’clock at night I had lettuce everywhere in the front seat. I could not imagine where it all came from. My lettuce fixings were falling out of the sandwich like nobody’s business. I decided I had better start eating soon or I would have nothing left.

I ate the first bite, and there it was: more lettuce. Where the heck was it all coming from?  The lobster meat was fine. Dry as could be, certainly not moist. But that lobster was covered in lettuce from head to toe. I had enough lettuce in that sandwich to keep six rabbits healthy for nearly a week. Was I the victim of an overenthusiastic staffer?

I went home and pondered. Near midnight I was still contemplating. How could my first experience with a supposedly popular offering be that horrific?  I say again: the lobster was okay- just minute in portion. It’s just that it was buried in dry shredded lettuce.

What if I were from, say, Michigan, visiting Nova Scotia for the first time ever? Trying lobster in a McDonald’s sandwich as a prelude to a lobster dinner?

Lunch at Tangier Lobster Company

Lunch at Tangier Lobster Company

My mentor always told me that we only get one chance to make a first impression. And my impression that night was not good. Not for McDonald’s. Not for Atlantic Canada. Not for lobster as a species.

I realized then and there that we have an unsustainable model. We are asking harvesters to fish for $2.75 and up, so that we can provide a rather shaky sandwich (no pun intended) to people like me for six dollars and seventy-nine cents.

I want you to make a margin, I want you to provide a quality experience, and I want the next generation of Atlantic Canadians to keep on fishing. But at those price points, your sandwich and our industry are obviously unsustainable.

There is only one way these wishes can come true. You need to charge me more, effective immediately. And we need to start building a ‘sustainable sandwich’- in more ways than one!

At four in the morning I was still tossing and turning. Surely there is a way to turn this discouraging scenario around.

Is McDonald’s Atlantic Region aware of the Lobster Council of Canada? We are an inclusive lobster sector organization that aims to build value into the fishery. Transparent and inclusive, we are chaired by Leonard LeBlanc, a fisherman from Cape Breton. We have board members from every part of this industry, and a Council that is directly behind them.

Our goal is to enhance the value of Canadian lobster, and I for one would welcome McDonald’s as a partner. A full-fledged partner that wants to do the right thing – by your business, by Atlantic Canadian communities, and most of all, by Canadian lobster.

Atlantic Canadian lobster

Delicious Atlantic Canadian lobster

We need to help you help us build a sustainable sandwich. It is just that simple. Would you care to discuss this in greater detail? Are there ways the Lobster Council can help you? Can we show you the quality experience that a sandwich might entail if we can just hit some higher price points?

We are better than this, collectively. I am quite certain you would agree. I keep thinking of that family from Michigan. Excited for their first lobster experience….

Awaiting your response, I remain,

Stewart Lamont

Stewart Lamont is the Managing Director of the Tangier Lobster Company and a board member with the Lobster Council of Canada.

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8 thoughts on “Can We Build a Sustainable Lobster Sandwich?

  1. I don’t know all that much about the economics of the lobster industry, but aren’t prices dictated by the market? Or do the processors/canners have some kind of oligopoly? Just curious…

    • The lobster market is complicated . But as one processor in New Brunswick told me recently : ” We don’t control the market. The market controls us .” The Big Buyers know that if they wait till June when cheaper American lobster is on the market, the pricing for Canadian processed products will fall . So this year, to a greater extent
      than ever, big customers have waited . The longer they wait, the cheaper they have bought . It’s a challenging situation in a lacklustre economy

  2. Correct . Freshly shucked Atlantic lobster . Freshly diced cantaloupe . And a well aged cheddar . ( Seafood sauce on the side for lubrication …. ) ….. Try it some time with guests from away . They will love it . Guaranteed .

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