Posted on: Thursday, December 25, 2003
Del Monte to exit Wahiawa
By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer
David Anderson, Del Monte's North American vice president for production, said the move comes as the company shifts production to a premium or "gold" variety of pineapple being grown at its plantation in Kunia. He said the Poamoho area in Wahiawa was not conducive to growing the company's extra-sweet MD2 variety of pineapple, which sells under the Del Monte Gold brand.
Anderson also pointed to recent problems encountered by Poamoho-area neighbor Dole Food Co. Inc., which include trespassing and vandalism.
Del Monte leases land in the Poamoho area from three landowners. Exiting that land will leave Del Monte with about 4,000 acres of pineapple plantation on O'ahu.
The Poamoho section of Del Monte's plantation has been the subject of environmental concern. The property, along with Del Monte's Kunia operation, was placed on the national Superfund list in September 1994.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed removing the Poamoho section from the national Superfund list in October and the company agreed to investigate contamination at the site.
Pineapples have been grown in the area since the 1940s, though like Hawai'i's other two main pineapple growers, Dole and Maui Land & Pineapple Co., Del Monte is converting its fields to the new, sweeter type of pineapple. Sales of the sweeter pineapple are riding higher on an increase in consumption of the fruit.
After suffering steep declines during the 1990s, Hawai'i pineapple farm-level sales have risen, with 2002 revenues improving 4 percent to $100.6 million. Production of fresh pineapple rose 6 percent to 117,000 tons.
Those gains came despite a dip in overall pineapple acreage from 20,100 acres in 2001 to 19,100 acres last year.
Donald Martin, state agricultural statistician, said a further drop in pineapple acreage may not have much impact on the state's pineapple sales depending on the yield of Del Monte's remaining land and the price its gold pineapples fetch.
"If they get a better price for the different variety, it may mean even more revenues," he said.
Reach Sean Hao at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8093.