Spill highlights little-known molasses industry in Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Spill highlights little-known molasses industry in Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The massive molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor this week has placed a spotlight on a little know sector in Hawaii agriculture industry.

Hawaii's molasses is produced by a single plantation -- Alexander & Baldwin Inc.'s Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. -- which makes about 50,000 tons of molasses each year on Maui

HC&S -- which operates Hawaii's last sugar plantation -- produces the molasses as a by-product of sugar and Matson brings from Maui to Honolulu Harbor by barge.

"We've been pumping molasses for thirty years," said Vic Angoco, Matson senior vice president.

"We bring those into Honolulu on our barge and we pump them into the storage tanks ... and we pump that from the storage tanks into the ships."

Most of the molasses produced elsewhere that's used to make rum and other food products has a higher sugar content but HC&S squeezes out that content to maximize its raw sugar yields.

Because of that, HC&S molasses has a bitter taste and isn't used for human consumption. Instead, it's shipped to the mainland and sold to farmers who use it as an additive to cattle feed.

HC&S says it has temporarily suspended its shipments until the problem at the Matson terminal is fixed.

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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