How Market Pricing Works

How Market Pricing Works

Do you love dining out at local establishments? If so, you probably have your favorite dishes that you choose, and fish is one of the more popular at restaurants along the New England coast. Lobster, haddock, and salmon meals are often a much-desired  dinner plate especially if you are dining al fresco with views of the ocean!  

If you enjoy having someone else cook for a change, you have probably seen the notations on the menu (particularly under the seafood section) that reads “market price” instead of listing the price directly on the menu. What is this and why don’t restaurants just list the actual price alongside their fish selections? 

What is Market Pricing? 

Restaurant menus will commonly omit the price and replace it with the term “market price” (often abbreviated to m.p. or mp). This means the “price of the dish” depends on the market price of the ingredients, and is available upon request”. It’s particularly used for seafood, notably lobsters and oysters. 

Some eateries use “market pricing” on other items that are seasonal such as fruits or even meats. Most commonly it is used to indicate that the price of seafood has many determining factors. 

Generally, restaurants don’t charge the straight market price for the fish. Instead, they’ll add on whatever it costs for them to make the meal plus a profit margin. 

What Determines Market Pricing? 

Meals that include seafood often don’t print the price on the menu because the price of the fish will change. The amount will vary depending on where they’re getting their fish and which fish they’re getting. It’s all a matter of supply and demand. If fishermen, for instance, have caught more lobsters this week and the haul is overloaded, the price will generally drop, while the fewer they catch means the price will increase. 

Fish markets depend on the amount and quality of the haul each week and, therefore, feel the change of supply and demand more than other food producers. The specifics of market pricing will again vary by location. For example, if there are multiple fish vendors at any given marketplace, they will compete to have the best catch and the best prices.  

Take, for example, the website Sea-Ex Commercial Fish Market. It lists the prices in varying markets around the globe from New England to Australia, and even the Asian fish markets. It gives restaurants a chance to alter their menu or create more offerings depending upon the market price for the week. 

When a dining patron sees the term Market Price, they should ask their server about how much the item costs. Often restaurants have an addendum to the menu that does list the weekly seafood prices so a server does not need to memorize the prices. Now when you see the term “market price” you’ll know that it all depends on what fish has been caught this week, its quality, and the amount.  Have questions about market pricing contact us on our website.