July 17, 2019
Home < KCFA Business < 01.25.14Consumer Fraud Protection and Meeting with US REP. Gabbard Press Releases

01.25.14Consumer Fraud Protection and Meeting with US REP. Gabbard Press Releases

For your information. It has been busy!  Don’t forget we also have EXPO on Friday January 31, 2014 from 10-4 at Old Airport’s Makeo Pavilion.

KCFA PR of January 23, 2014

Kona State Representative Nicole Lowen and Hawaii County State Senator Russell Ruderman, at the urging of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, have introduced companion bills in the Hawaii Legislature’s 2014 Session to reduce consumer fraud and deception caused by current state coffee labeling laws. Rep. Lowen’s bill is HB1515 “Relating to Agriculture” and Sen. Ruderman’s bill is SB2354 “Relating to Coffee”.

Both bills cite a factual finding from a 2007 Concurrent Resolution of the Hawaii Legislature that “existing labeling requirements for Kona coffee causes consumer fraud and confusion and degrades the ‘Kona Coffee” name.” SB2354 states that “amendments to the relevant statutes are therefore necessary to prevent consumer fraud and confusion” and that the purpose of the bill is to “conform state coffee labeling laws to principles of consumer disclosure and fair marketing by requiring express label disclosure of the per cent of coffee not grown in Hawaii that is included in coffee blends that contain Hawaii-grown coffee.”
Currently, Honolulu coffee blenders, for example, are only required to state in “10% Kona Coffee Blend” in small print on coffee blend packages. The Lowen and Ruderman bills will require blenders to expressly tell consumers that 90% of what is in the blend package is not grown in Hawaii –for example:  “Contains: 90% Panamanian Coffee; 10% Kona Coffee” or  “Contains: 90% Foreign-Grown Coffee; 10% Maui Coffee.”
“This is a very modest step in the direction of fair marketing and consumer disclosure,” observes Kona Coffee Farmers Association President Cecelia B. Smith.  “Visitors from the Mainland who don’t read beyond the large print (for example “Royal Kona” or “Hawaiian Gold Kona Coffee”) at the top of packages of 10% Kona blends will still be misled into buying what they wrongly believe to be Kona coffee. But for those buyers who carefully read the label, for the first time there will be an express indication that 90% of the contents is not from Kona or from any other region of Hawaii.”

KCFA PR of January 24, 2014
Tulsi Gabbard Meets with Kona Coffee Farmers

On January 23 Tulsi Gabbard, US Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, met with a group of Kona Coffee farmers at Cuppa Kona Farm in Holualoa on Hawaii Island.  Rep. Gabbard had requested a meeting with her farmer constituents to discuss the Coffee Berry Borer (CBB) emergency, as well as other issues faced by Kona Coffee farmers.
CBB is a small and destructive beetle discovered on Hawaii Island in 2010 that is causing damage to coffee to a degree that raises concerns about the continuing economic viability of coffee as a commercial crop in Hawaii County. The Kona farmers expressed sincere thanks to Rep. Gabbard for her work that was instrumental in 2013 in securing initial emergency funding for research and CBB mitigation for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center  (PBARC) in Hilo.  Ms. Gabbard was encouraged to continue efforts to bring further funding to the scientists at PBARC to continue the battle against CBB.
Other issues raised by the coffee farmers were their 20+ year effort to reform Hawaii’s 10% coffee blend law and the increasing presence of Black Twig Borer on the west side of Hawaii Island.
The use of the “Kona” name on packages of coffee containing only 10% Kona coffee deceives consumers into wrongly believing they are buying Kona Coffee when 90% of the contents is not from Kona.  These “blends” damage the reputation of Kona Coffee when consumers are disappointed by the mediocre taste of what is mostly ordinary commodity coffee.
The Black Twig Borer is another pest that is also posing challenges to Kona Coffee farmers by reducing harvest levels.
Rep Gabbard expressed her understanding of the concerns and pledged to work hard in Washington, DC to preserve coffee as Hawaii’s premier specialty agricultural crop.