KAPALUA – Financial challenges facing Maui Land & Pineapple Co. are raising a “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” the company reports in its latest filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.
Among a number of disclosures in the filing, a group of lenders has declared that a $280.5 million loan for the Kapalua Bay Holdings’ construction of the The Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, Kapalua Bay is in default. ML&P has invested more than $50 million in cash and $25 million in land for the development project and has 51 percent ownership in the Bay Holdings company.
“The company’s cash outlook for the next 12 months and its ability to continue to meet its financial covenants is highly dependent on selling certain real estate assets in a difficult market,” the filing says. “If the company is unable to meet its financial covenants resulting in the borrowings becoming immediately due, the company would not have sufficient liquidity to repay such outstanding borrowings.”
While the company’s future appears ominous in its SEC filing, Tim Esaki, the company’s financial officer, said Friday that company officials “remain optimistic.”
The U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission announced today that it filed lawsuits in Hawaii and Washington state against Global Horizons Inc., a Beverly Hills-based farm labor contractor, and eight farms, including six in Hawaii.
The agency said Global Horizons brought more than 200 men from Thailand to work on farms in Hawaii and Washington, where they were subjected to severe abuse.
The EEOC contends that Global Horizons engaged in a pattern or practice of national origin and race discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Hundreds of additional potential claimants and witnesses are expected, the EEOC said.
The agency said the Thai workers were assigned to work at these farms in Hawaii: Captain Cook Coffee Company, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Kauai Coffee Company, Kelena Farms, MacFarms of Hawaii and Maui Pineapple Farms.
The Washington state farms named in the lawsuits are Green Acre Farms and Valley Fruit Orchards.
The lawsuit follows criminal charges brought against Global Horizons last year. The U.S. government in September indicted Global Horizons owner Mordechai Yosef Orian and others with exploiting about 400 Thai workers in forced-labor conditions from May 2004 to September 2005.
A year ago, Haliimaile Pineapple Co., the employee-driven farm picked up the pieces of the failed Maui Pineapple Co., and reopened with a new name and renewed commitment to grow pineapple.
Vice President Rudy Balala confirmed, “We just finished the one year. We had some up-and-down times, but overall we’ve had good support from Hawaii customers. And our Mainland customers too, they have hung with us.”
The company employs 83 people.
Friday was an extra day for picking to accommodate a field that had ripened earlier than expected.
KIHEI – Doug Schenk, a director of the Haliimaile Pineapple Co., will speak at the 7:30 a.m. meeting Wednesday of the Rotary Club of Kihei Sunrise.
He will discuss the “rebirth” of pineapple on the Valley Isle. As a locally owned and operated successor to Maui Pineapple Co., Haliimaile Pineapple Co. is trying to fill the void left by Maui Pine, which closed in 2009, a release said.
The breakfast meeting convenes at the Five Palms restaurant at the Mana Kai Maui Resort in Kihei. The cost of breakfast is $17. The meeting is open to the public.
For more information, call President Ed Corbett at 264-3468 or see www.kiheirotary.org.
In 2008, there were 202 requests (more than twice the number of requests in 2006 and 2007), and 137 of those were approved.
Across the nation in 2009, 5,177 workers entered the U.S. under the
H-2A program, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The problem is supply versus demand.
“If Hawaii is going to increase its agricultural sector, somebody’s gonna have to do the work in the fields,” said Mae Nakahata, president of the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, which represents 1,600 members in the local agricultural industry. “A lot of the local people don’t want to do that type of work, so where is that labor going to come from?”
Nakahata said many farms are tiny, family operations that can’t handle the workload by themselves.
“A lot of our farmers are dependent on second and third parties to get their labor because they’re not large companies,” Nakahata said. “They depend on the contractor, and that the contractor is doing its job correctly.”
Many local farms relied on Global Horizons Manpower Inc., a Los Angeles-based recruiting contractor whose president and associates are now accused in what’s been called the largest human trafficking scheme ever prosecuted in the U.S.
Federal investigators allege that Global Horizons, headed by Mordechai Orian, hired Thai workers under false promises of high wages, but later revoked their traveling documents and violated their rights.
The Global Horizons case involves about 400 farmers who passed through Hawaii from May 2004 through September 2005. The case includes 14 farms around the state, including Maui Pineapple Farms, Aloun Farms, Del Monte Hawaii and the Kauai Coffee Co.
None of the farms is being accused of wrongdoing in the case. Aloun Farms’ owners face trial in a separate case involving 44 Thai workers who claim to have been abused.
“Local farms are in a tough situation now,” said Nakahata. “How do you evaluate whether the contract you’re going for is legitimate?
Going, going — now it’s gone
KAHULUI – The $23 million fresh fruit processing line that three years ago was supposed to represent the new future of Maui Pineapple Co. was auctioned Tuesday for $125,000.
"It’s so specialized," said Maui Land & Pineapple Co. President Ryan Churchill, noting that there weren’t likely to be a lot of buyers for the equipment.
More than 300 bargain hunters and looky-loos crowded the Elleaire Ballroom at the Maui Beach Hotel for an all-day extravaganza of hope that kept three auctioneers chattering in relays, as many more bidders were online, following the action from around the world.
ML&P closed down its Maui Pine subsidiary at the end of last year, selling or leasing some of its land and equipment to Haliimaile Pineapple Co. But the unwanted leftovers went on the block Monday, ranging from wrecked golf carts to never-used office equipment to a generating station that could power a city of 50,000.
It was a day when the complete newbie could go head to head with the experienced auction-goer and come away a winner.
Like Becky Woods, chief executive officer of Maui Economic Concerns of the Community, which runs Ka Hale A Ke Ola and other island homeless shelters. She noticed pictures of golf carts on the front page of The Maui News on Tuesday morning and decided to check it out.
When Maui Pineapple closed it’s doors, Haliimaile Pineapple Company opened their’s, thereby saving lots of local jobs. Cudos to the Haliimaile Pineapple Company!
The company is growing the popular Maui Gold variety of pineapple and the strategy is to focus mainly on the local market, although a small portion will be exported to the mainland.
Prickly issue of vanishing pineapple
Growing sugarcane and pineapple is hard work, as generations of plantation and farm workers in Hawai’i can attest, but making money at it these days may be even harder. While conditions have improved in modern times for the islands’ fieldworkers, the competition from Third World countries — with different standards of living and labor laws — has also increased.
This is the sweetest, best tasting, Pineapple in the world.
Grown on Maui by Hali'imaile Pineapple Co.
Please buy this product!!!
PRIDE IN ISLAND!!!
One of the latest large landowners to cry uncle is Maui Land & Pineapple, which announced Nov. 3 that its pineapple subsidiary — renowned for its "Maui Gold" brand — would cease production at the end of the year. Citing losses of $115 million since 2002, along with $20 million in expenses for a new packing facility, the announcement continued: "The painful decision to close pineapple operations at MPC after 97 years was incredibly difficult to make, but absolutely necessary. We realize this ends a significant chapter in Maui’s history — an important part of many lives, over many generations."
The company’s last harvest took place two days before Christmas, but just before New Year’s, a group of investors came up with a plan to continue operations on about 1,000 acres — a third of the former farm — under the name Haliimaile Pineapple.
I used to pick up Maui Gold pineapples at Trader Joe’s every winter. The pineapple display often had the Maui Golds placed amongst the ones from Thailand or elsewhere and I’d carefully check for the Hawaii tag. I was trying to reclaim the amazing flavor of the freshly sweet pineapple I had in Maui years ago. Sadly, Maui Land & Pineapple, Inc., who retailed as Maui Gold, shut down their pineapple production at the end of 2009. Maui Land & Pineapple was the largest grower of the fruit in Hawaii. Dole Food still has some pineapple acreage in Oahu, but has most of its production elsewhere. Del Monte harvested its last Hawaii pineapple crop in 2008. However, not all is lost as Haliimaile Pineapple Co. Ltd has stepped in and purchased or leased the Maui Pineapple assets and fields, including the Maui Gold pineapple and brand. They plan to export a small percentage to mainland retailers where Maui Gold can command a premium price (I’m thinking that might not be Trader Joe’s).