Darden Restaurants, the company that owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, among other chains, recently announced plans for the world’s largest lobster aquafarm in Malaysia. But here’s the thing: They can’t raise Maine lobsters down there, only those spiny, clawless “rock lobsters” that most chefs would tell you aren’t really lobsters at all, and only have tail meat anyway. So maybe Red Lobster might want to take that big-clawed Maine lobster out of their logo and replace it with one of these ugly things sometime soon?
As this pro-Maine lobster website explains, the only true lobsters in the world are found in the Gulf of Maine and the New England coast, and a similar species is found off the European coast. And as the Orlando Sentinel admits, the flesh of these spiny lobsters, the kind Red Lobster will raise, tends to get rubbery if not perfectly cooked. Consequently, demand for the higher-quality Maine lobster will likely continue — however, Maine lobster fishermen are freaking out a bit about the possibility that an enormous farm like this will ultimately drive down the price of their catch.
Red Lobster already uses spiny lobster tails in many of its dishes, but still stocks Maine lobsters for their tanks and for serving customers who order whole lobsters — kind of a bait-and-switch if you ask us, since there’s a Maine lobster fisherman displayed prominently on their homepage right now, holding a big-clawed beauty. Lobsters from the Malaysian farm aren’t likely to make it onto Red Lobster diners’ plates for at least five years, with the earliest produced crustaceans ending up in Asian markets and restaurants beginning around 2017. Ultimately, the company expects to be farming 40 million pounds of lobsters each year, which would be worth $1 billion or more.
But if you ever wondered why the entrées during Lobsterfest were so cheap, now you know.
Darden plans to build world’s largest lobster farm [Orlando Sentinel]
Related: Olive Garden, Red Lobster Feeling the Pinch