Many on Maui are calling it the end of an era as Maui Land and Pineapple Company pulls the plug on pineapple production. An estimated 285 lay offs are planned by the end of the year in a move that was announced to workers Tuesday morning.
After losing $115 million in agriculture over the past seven years, company officials said market conditions have not improved and pineapple operations were no longer financially sustainable. The company plans to focus its efforts on the success of its Kapalua Resort while trying to accommodate up to 133 employees at partner companies.
The following are statements released by various political figures in the wake of the recent announcement.
Governor Linda Lingle
“This is a difficult time for the employees of Maui Land & Pineapple, and the State is ready to assist those who will be displaced through our multi-agency Rapid Response Team. The hard work and dedication of these loyal employees and those before them contributed to the cultivation of the pineapple industry and agriculture on Maui over the years.
“Unfortunately, while this kama‘āina company tried its best to keep its pineapple operation financially viable, the realities of today’s global economy and the worldwide agricultural market has led to this business decision by Maui Land & Pineapple.
“Pineapple has been an integral part of Maui’s community, heritage and way of life for generations, and for many Maui residents, the plantation and cannery provided their first jobs. While the end of pineapple production on the island is a loss to Maui and the entire state, now more than ever, it is critically important that we work together to support agriculture in Hawai‘i to ensure our food security as well as to provide jobs.”
Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares
“This is very sad news for our community, especially for the employees and their families who will be affected. Agricultural fields are part of our heritage and have been a foundation of our island’s history. For nearly a hundred years the company’s pineapple operations have made our community’s character unique. Working in our pineapple fields has been the source of income for many families, where high school teenagers spent their summers and where multiple members of a family worked in different parts of the operations. I have my own personal memories of summer work in the fields.”
“I’m certain that this was not an easy decision for the company to make in light of the economic difficulties affecting the world today. The County Office of Economic Development has already begun working with our state and private sector partners to pull all of our resources together and provide help for the displaced workers through job fairs, training, counseling and assistance with the unemployment process.”
U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye
“Our sputtering economy continues to hurt long time Hawaii institutions and the loss of Maui Pine impacts the lives and families of 285 workers. Since the company went public in 1969 it has served as a vital cog in our local economy through its agriculture, resort and real estate operations. My sympathies go out to the workers and families affected by this closure. I stand ready to direct whatever federal assistance the law allows and I will continue to do all I can in Washington to ensure that the federal government is supporting the local economy as best it can during these turbulent economic times,” said Senator Inouye.
Rep Gilbert Keith-Agaran
“I’m saddened to hear that another of Hawaii’s signature businesses is coming to a close,” said Rep. Keith-Agaran. “I’m especially concerned about the 284 Maui residents who will be losing their jobs, and I am hoping that the State administration will mobilize to provide services and information to them to help with the transition.”
“This will be a major change for the people of Maui,” continued Rep. Keith-Agaran. “Pineapple has been part of our history, our economy and our culture for generations. Maui is resilient, however, and I am hopeful that our community will recover from the setback and together find other ways to thrive going forward.”
(Posted by Wendy Osher)