Pineapple start-up looking for growth on Maui - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Pineapple start-up looking for growth on Maui

Darren Strand Darren Strand
Rudy Balala Rudy Balala

KAHULUI, Maui (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's a fresh focus to the Valley Isle's struggling pineapple industry. Armed with a new strategy, a Maui company is picking up the pieces after Maui Land and Pineapple's departure.

The Haliimaile Pineapple Company launched right after the start of the new year. The business stepped in after Maui Land and Pineapple ended its pineapple operations due to mounting losses.

"They were very cooperative on terms for land lease. We're purchasing water from them to grow our crop. We bought some of the older pineapple equipment that we're using in the field - the tractors, the harvesters." Said Darren Strand, president of Haliimaile Pineapple Company.

The company is growing the popular Maui Gold variety and the strategy is to focus mainly on the local market.

"Before the shutdown of Maui Pineapple, we were sending about 100,000 cases of pineapple to the west coast, and we've cut our production down to about 1/10 of that."

The new venture helped saved 65 jobs, but the workers have had to make sacrifices.

"Now we have truck drivers picking pineapple. We have harvester drivers packing pineapple so everybody has learned how to do everybody else's job, and it's worked out very well for us" said Rudy Balala, vice-president of Haliimaile Pineapple Company.

Employees are still working out of this Kahului facility. The operations will move to Haliimaile in the next 18 months.

"Our plan is to plant all of our acres in the Haliimaile area, have our packing shed there, and we'll have everything consolidated in one central area which saves in fuel, saves in travel cost."

The company hopes to harvest its profits in the first year.

"Our first month was very good and we're in the middle of our second month, and it looks pretty promising, so I hope so" said Balala.

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