2022 Year in Review
2022 was a huge year for Luke’s Lobster. We measured our carbon footprint throughout our entire supply chain, found that our lobster is 30 times more climate-friendly than conventional beef, and still took steps to reduce our footprint further. We had the privilege of taking a group of BIPOC students from the Portland area lobstering all summer long, and guiding them through the challenging process of obtaining a student lobster license. And we opened our first new shack in almost three pandemic-plagued years in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal. As the year comes to a close, we want to take a moment to celebrate these capstones and more.
The biggest news for Luke’s Lobster guests in 2022 was our first new shack opening in almost 3 years! Starting in 2020, the pandemic challenged our business in ways that at times seemed insurmountable. But we banded together and battled through, and in July of 2022 we were so proud to open our newest shack in Grand Central Terminal in NYC! In the process, we grew our team, our customer base, and even our capabilities, as we added a full bar for the first time in NYC. The GCT shack has welcomed in way more guests than we anticipated as folks pour back into NYC through this iconic gateway, and we’re proud to be there. Keep an eye out for our next opening in Seattle on January 12!
Speaking of growing our shack’s capabilities, we took a huge step this December by cracking the code on how to make a warm buttered lobster roll without sacrificing the perfect flavor and texture of our lobster meat. Bathed in warm butter for just the right amount of time, this roll hits just right in the winter months. Order it when dining in at our shacks this winter!
We also grew our branded grocery business. We launched a brand new product, our pre-split lobster tail with roasted garlic butter, in Sprouts Farmers Market locations around the country. And we shipped out our first batch of lobster cake bites, which you’ll find in Whole Foods locations at the start of the year. Keep an eye out for more new Luke’s products on grocery seafood shelves in 2023!
Most importantly, we grew and developed our team. We kicked off our busy season with the return of the Maine Way trip, where we bring all our General Managers from around the country to Maine to see how lobstermen sustainably harvest our lobster, how our production teammates handle it delicately through the cooking, picking, and packing process, and how our company culture is rooted in Maine hospitality and empathy. Also, there’s a sweet oceanside lobster bake. We expanded our health insurance, sick and bereavement leave, and parental care benefits for our team. And we are proud to say that 11 of our teammates were promoted internally in 2022! Congratulations to Champa, Sabrina, Cassandra, JP, Noelia, Johnny, Mark, Ali, Jared, Meaghan, and Heather, and thank you for choosing to grow your career with us!
We Diversified Our Supply Chain
We’re a business founded by white men, which means our founders have had privileged access to opportunity throughout their lives that helped them start and grow our business. It’s critical that we use our buying power to support BIPOC and women entrepreneurs who have not had those privileges and have had to work that much harder to get where they are today.
Lift All Boats
Over 90% of the money we spend, we spend on lobster. And lobstermen are overwhelmingly white. Because there is a strict limit to licenses in Maine, and the only way to guarantee a license is to complete over 1,000 student hours before you turn twenty, it’s very difficult for an industry outsider to pursue lobstering as a career. That makes it another way that BIPOC entrepreneurs are systematically excluded. To diversify where we spend our money, we need to diversify our core industry.
This year, four intrepid students joined year one of our Lift All Boats project to overcome these barriers. Joshua, Cristiano, Justin, and Mogga came fishing one day per week, learned the ins and outs of lobstering, completed their government paperwork to advance on their student licenses, and learned off-the-boat lessons like personal financial management. They rapidly developed skills and confidence. As Joshua told NPR, “being alone out on the ocean sometimes, just doing your job and getting work done, you're really focused on nothing else. You can leave everything else behind. It's good. It's very therapeutic, I think.”
In 2023, we’re aiming to expand the Lift All Boats class to 12 students, including three returning student coaches. You can help us and our project partner, Island Institute, to grow the program by contributing here.
Beyond our lobster, we’re proud to have bought products from 16 BIPOC and women-owned businesses in our communities. Here are a few examples:
We partnered with Omsom, a company founded by Kim and Vanessa Pham, daughters of Vietnamese immigrants who bring proud, loud Asian flavors to home cooks with their sauce packets. We sold 14,0000 spicy mala rolls made with Omsom’s mala sauce, made in partnership with Amelie Kang, chef of the wonderful Mala Project in NYC.
Through our online market, we sold 1,861 blueberry pies made by Two Fat Cats, a woman-owned company in Portland, Maine, with blueberries sourced from Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Co., an indigenous owned wild blueberry farm in Washington County, Maine.
Speaking of pies, our Chicago shack has been blessed to serve desserts from Justice of the Pies, a bakery owned by Maya-Camille Broussard, a black woman committed to bringing equality and decency to low income communities in Chicago through student training and community fridge support. Check out her brand new cookbook here!
Most recently, we launched a collaboration with two fantastic companies owned by Indian immigrants in Maine. It’s a mussel dish at our Portland Pier flagship restaurant made with Caldine sauce from Mumbai to Maine and lager from Rupee Beer, two amazing companies run by immigrants from India who launched their businesses in Maine. Order these mussels all winter long at Luke’s Portland Pier and check out their products online and in stores!
Check out everyone we worked with and seek them out where you can:
- Harlem Blue
- Green Bench Brewing
- Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
- Brooklyn Brewery
- Talea Beer Co.
- Daleview Biscuits & Beer
- Rupee Beer
- Justice of the Pies
- Bixby Chocolate
- Passamaquoddy Wild Blueberry Co.
- Atlantic Sea Farms
- True Fin
- Two Fat Cats
- Real Mother Shuckers
We Measured and Improved Our Climate Impact
We also recognize that one of the biggest challenges we all face is climate change, and Luke’s is committed to leading by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. This year we partnered with Island Institute to conduct the first-of-its-kind carbon footprint assessment of our entire lobster and crab supply chain.
We found that our lobster products generate 2.89 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions for every pound of lobster we use. That makes our lobster extremely friendly compared to other foods: conventional beef at 60 pounds of emissions, lamb at 24, cheese at 21, farmed shrimp at 12, and chicken at 6. It’s great to know we are one of the best proteins you can eat, but we are not resting on our laurels, we’re leading from the front to reduce emissions further.
2022 was our first full year of buying 100% renewable energy in every property we control, and we also offset 100% of the emissions from our online market shipping. These two major changes saved an estimated 857 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from our atmosphere.
We also took the major step of installing solar panels on our Portland Pier buy station. In just three months, these panels have generated over 3,000 kwh hours of electricity, which means reductions in emissions compared to grid energy, as well as reduced stress on our local utility, and great savings on our energy bills.
In 2023 we’ll be taking our positive learnings from our own solar installation to encourage and support more of our partner wharves in installing their own on-site solar generation. We’ll also take a major lesson from our footprint assessment–that ⅔ of our emissions come from diesel burned by fishing boats–into a plan to collaborate with Island Institute and local companies like Maine Electric Boat Company in Biddeford to begin trials of electric boat engines at wharves across the Maine coast.
And finally, we continued our quest to utilize the full lobster, antennae-to-tail, without wasting any part of the animal. Wasted lobster means wasted emissions in its production and transportation, as well as wasted methane emissions if it’s sent to landfill. Instead, we make sure to harvest parts typically thrown away–like the shell, leg meat, body meat, and even the blood, for valuable food, agricultural, skincare, and other products. This year we upcycled 546,883 pounds of lobster that other companies waste. That’s 12% of the weight of live lobster we produced that would otherwise have been thrown away.
We Supported Our Industry and Community
Luke’s Lobster would be nothing without the fishermen and women that harvest lobster up and down the coast, and the surrounding communities that uplift the industry. This industry is up against unprecedented challenges, and we were honored to work with stakeholders from fishermen, to regulators, to nonprofits throughout the year to protect both fishing communities and endangered right whales.
We’re also proud to have partnered with and supported three amazing organizations that propel our industry and the Maine Coast forward: Island Institute, Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, and Maine Lobstermen’s Association. All are doing amazing work to defend our coastal communities and their sustainable fishing practices, to help them adapt and become even more sustainable and resilient, and to provide much needed support for their mental and physical health in times of stress. We are immensely grateful for the work these organizations do, and for our partnership with them and with the folks who are the engine of Maine’s marine economy.
Of course, none of the above would be possible without the guests who visit us or order our seafood every day. We are so incredibly grateful for your support day in and day out. And now that you’ve indulged us in our celebration, we’re excited to get back to the work you’ve come to expect from us, and advance all these causes further in 2023.