August 20, 2019
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Letter to HDOA regarding KonaRed

October 18 , 2017

Scott Enright, Chair
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
1428 South King Street
Honolulu, Hi 96814

Re: KonaRed Cold Brew Coffee Original Kona Blend

Dear Scott:

A Kona Coffee Farmers Association ( member recently brought to our attention, and raised concerns over, the labeling on a coffee product that uses the “Kona” name and is offered for sale in this state.  After examining the label on this product (‘KonaRed Cold Brew Coffee Original Kona Blend”), we too are concerned.

With respect to “KonaRed Cold Brew Coffee Original Kona Blend”, we request your assistance in two respects:

1—An Investigation to Determine the Percentage of Kona Coffee in This KonaRed Blend

Although the label uses the word “Kona” 14 times, the word “Hawaiian” 8 times, and the top of each of the 4 side panels state “Premium Hawaiian Cold Brew Coffee”, there is no statement as to what percentage of the coffee is Kona-grown.

After “Water”, the “Ingredients” list on the back of the package identifies “100% Certified Kona Coffee” as the second ingredient and “Colombian Coffee” as the third.  Because federal law requires that a product’s label state the ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight, KonaRed is representing to consumers that a majority of the coffee in this product is Kona-grown coffee and that less than half is Colombian coffee.

Because of the price at which this product is being sold, we have serious doubts that a majority of the coffee is, in fact, Kona-grown.  We request your assistance in having the HDOA conduct an investigation to determine the percentage of Kona coffee in this product.

If the investigation determines that less than 50% of the coffee in the product is Kona-grown coffee, the violation of federal law, along with other misleading language on the label, would provide ample evidence of false and misleading statements to consumers in violation of HRS 708-871.  If that is the case, we request that you refer this matter to the Hawaii Attorney General for prosecution.

2—Amendment of HRS 486-120.6

Although the label of the KonaRed Kona Blend product fails to disclose the percentage of coffee grown in Kona, this is not a violation of Hawaii’s coffee labeling law (HRS 486-120.6) because the scope of that law is limited to the labeling and advertising of “roasted or instant coffee”.  We believe this KonaRed product and other brewed and coffee-flavored products using Hawaii coffee names (for example, Royal Mills’ canned “Hawaiian Kona Premium Coffee” with no indication of what percentage of the coffee, if any, is from Kona), should make the same label disclosures as required by HRS 486-120.6.  We request your support and that of the HDOA for an amendment making this change in the 2018 Legislative Session.

We very much appreciate your consideration of these two requests.  We look forward to hearing from you.

with aloha

Cecelia B. Smith
KCFA Branding Committee

Cc: Rep. Richard Creagan
Rep. Nicole Lowen
Sen. Josh Green
Nancy Cook Lauer, West Hawaii Today
Andrew Gomes, Honolulu Advertiser