© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Minimum Hawaiian coffee labeling requirements could change

Wikimedia Commons

The state Department of Agriculture is requesting proposals to study the economic impact of changing Hawaiʻi coffee labeling requirements.

Current law requires a minimum of 10% of the coffee must come from the geographic area to be labeled as Hawaiian coffee.

The report would study the changes in the industry if the minimum requirements are increased to 51% and 100%. Supporters of the increase want at least half of the coffee beans to be locally grown.

The state Legislature last year allocated $100,000 for the study.

Coffee scientist Shawn Steiman has doubts about whether the percentage increase is good for the industry, saying, "The folks [who] are buying 10% blend, they don't have to buy 10% blends. They could buy 100% international coffee from somewhere, but they're choosing the 10% because, well for some reason right?"

The study would look into current markets to see who is buying locally-produced coffee.

"My fear is that if we raise it to 51% then every bag of coffee now sold at the 10% blend in Longs or Safeway or wherever is not gonna get sold. That is going to have huge ramifications throughout the local industry. Sure, we can change this and you know, have a greater sense of our morality or transparency to consumers, but at what cost? Is that cost worth it?" Steiman said.

The Department of Agriculture will accept proposals for the study until June 1.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
Related Stories