Lobster meat used by lobster trucks is now running around $30 a pound, according to Sackton. He said these price levels "have never been seen before," adding that the lobster meat is normally priced in the "$16-$18 range."
"We've tried to withstand the price increases to the best of our ability," said Cousins co-owner Tselikis. He said Cousins passed along some of the higher costs with increased prices for the lobster roll but not all of it because "we didn't want to rock the boat so much where we lose customers because we jacked the price."
Another reason prices may have remained high this year is fish bait costs such as herring for Maine lobstermen were double in some cases.
"It's still a bit early to know how much of an impact bait prices have had on lobstermen's bottom line," said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association. "It is certainly a significant daily operating expense, so it will have an impact."
The harvest season will continue through November and into early December, although some Maine lobstermen will fish through the cold winter.
"All in all, it seems like it's shaping up to be another really good year for the Maine lobster industry," said McCarron.
Last year, Maine's lobster harvest approached around $500 million in value statewide and it marked the fourth year in a row when the state landings reached over 120 million pounds, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Official figures for the 2016 harvest won't be released until early 2017.
The continued strong harvest comes as the export market remains vibrant for North American lobsters. Overall, U.S. lobster exports have soared in recent years and year-to-date through August are running up 16 percent in dollar terms compared with a year ago, according to the latest export data from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
In particular, China is a standout in terms of the Maine industry's growth. The dollar value of U.S. lobster exports to China has soared 280 percent since 2011 and this year is on pace to produce healthy double-digit growth.
"China has become a huge, huge player in the live lobster market," said Sackton. "Lots of people are exporting them and a lot of Chinese buyers are showing up on the docks and competing."
Growth for North American lobster isn't just coming from China, Hong Kong and South Korea but from other Asian markets including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, according to Maine Coast's marketing exec. She said this year the company has already beaten last year's annual sales to the Asia market.
Indeed, North America's lobster industry has made major inroads into the Asia market, which was previously dominated by sellers from Australia and New Zealand. With advances in shipping, the North American lobster companies have been able to be price competitive in the Asia market.