Chocolate hopes to sweeten up Hawaii agriculture industry – Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

By Duane Shimogawa

WAIALUA (HawaiiNewsNow) – As the state’s agriculture industry goes through some sour times, a relatively new crop is hoping to sweeten things up. Sugar and pineapple were once the staple crops of Hawaii’s plantation era, but with these industries practically extinct, Hawaii’s ag lands are now returning to a new era of small farms.

An exciting new crop may be the sweet savior to Hawaii’s lagging ag industry. State ag leaders say they aren’t just looking to one crop to replace both sugar and pineapple.

Instead, they’re hoping a variety of crops, including another sweet tasting one will take the lead and help the state’s ag industry grow to new heights.

Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. where chocolate can grow. That’s because it only flourishes in areas close to the equator. So it made sense for Dole Foods to try it out.

Del Monte quitting pineapple here | The Honolulu Advertiser


  • Del Monte’s news of closure stuns, upsets workers
  • Union optimistic about retraining, aid

By Dan Nakaso and Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writers

Del Monte Fresh Produce will plant its last pineapple crop this month at the Kunia plantation and cease its more than century-old Hawai’i operation at the end of 2008, eliminating the jobs of more than 700 pineapple workers on O’ahu.

Some of the Del Monte employees include husbands, wives and children in the same families, said Fred Galdones, president of the ILWU’s Local 142, which represents the unionized workers.

"It will have a very far-reaching effect on the families," said Galdones, whose union represented thousands of sugar workers who lost their jobs when O’ahu’s sugar industry died a decade ago. "Like the sugar workers, this will be very traumatic for those families."

State Rep. Michael Magaoay, D-46th (Kahuku, North Shore, Schofield), who grew up in the Mill Camp of the now-defunct Waialua Sugar plantation, said: "We need to look at the hysteria that people are going to have."

Del Monte’s decision will leave Dole Food Co. as the only major pineapple grower on O’ahu. Dole employs about 250 unionized workers, Galdones said.

Maui Land & Pineapple’s subsidiary, Maui Pineapple Co., remains the state’s largest pineapple producer, with operations on more than 6,000 acres on Maui, according to Brian Nishida, Maui Pineapple’s president and CEO.

In 2004, Hawai’i’s pineapple industry employed 1,200 workers, according to state figures.