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September 28, 2000

Reverse Trade Mission for Coffee Proves Enlightening and Productive for Japan Coffee Companies and Hawaii Growers

Honolulu - The newly established Japan-Hawaii Coffee Association participated in a reverse trade mission hosted by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the Hawaii Coffee Growers Association last week in Hawaii. The reverse trade mission brought company presidents or senior executives from a dozen of Japan's major coffee product manufacturers and distributors for a four-day conference and tour of Hawaii's coffee farms.

"Our trade mission to Japan last year peaked interest in organizing a reverse trade mission to bring Japan's major coffee companies to Hawaii so that they can personally experience why Hawaii's coffees are a premium product," said James J. Nakatani, Chairperson of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

"Japan imports 100 percent of the coffee sold in the country and is the world's third largest importer of coffee," added Nakatani. "The conference provided Hawaii coffee growers and manufacturers with an opportunity to meet extensively with Japan coffee buyers to learn more about the foreign export market."

The Japan-Hawaii Coffee Association was established a year ago to facilitate the exchange of information on Hawaii coffee and the distinct Japanese export market. Currently, the association members include 24 Japanese companies and at least nine Hawaii coffee companies.

Member companies from Japan that participated in this trade mission included:

  • Ataka Trading Co., Ltd. Mizuno Coffee Co., Ltd.
  • Doutor Coffee Co., Ltd. Takasago Coffee Co., Ltd.
  • Hayama Coffee Co., Ltd. Tokyo Coffee Co., Ltd.
  • Itochu Corporation, Coffee Section UCC Ueshima Coffee Co., Ltd.
  • Kyo Oribe Co., Ltd.
  • Member companies from Hawaii include:
  • Dole-Waialua Coffee Kona Pacific Farmers Cooperative
  • Coffees of Hawaii (Molokai) Kaanapali Estate Coffee (Maui)
  • Greenwell Farms Inc. (Big Island) Loves Family Farm (Big Island)
  • Kauai Coffee Company UCC Ueshima Coffee Co.-Hawaii (Big Island)
  • KeoKea Kona Coffee Farm (Big Island)

The conference started off with a welcoming reception at Washington Place and toured coffee farms and processing facilities on Oahu, Molokai, Kauai and the Big Island. The business portion of the conference was held last Monday at the East-West Center.

"The conference was a great opportunity for the delegation from Japan to see coffee production in Hawaii and to meet the people who work passionately year 'round to product our famous coffees, said Frank Kiger, Vice President and General Manager of Kauai Coffee and President of the Hawaii Coffee Association. "Making new friendships and renewing long-lasting relationships is an essential part of a better understanding of each other's business, so that we can move forward and complete the coffee circle 'from Tree to Cup.'

"The Japanese delegation was also very impressed with the strong show of support for the coffee industry from our state government and its Department of Agriculture," Kiger added.

The coffee industry is Hawaii's sixth largest agricultural commodity with production value in 1999 estimated at $21 million. There are nearly 8,000 acres of coffee production on five islands.