Produce Shortages Result from March Rains

Alan Young, of Young's Fish Market
Alan Young, of Young's Fish Market

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The heavy rains back in March are putting a damper on some of Hawaii's most important crops.

This means some restaurants and grocery stores are struggling to provide customers with certain foods.

The front counter at Young's Fish Market is usually lined with bags of poi, but not today.

"Mother Nature throws us a curve now and then and we just have to adapt to what she gives us," said Alan Young, president of Young's Fish Market.

That means limiting customers to just one bag.

"That's too bad," said Nida Anderson, customer.

Torrential rains in March flooded some local farms and now vendors aren't able to provide businesses with everything they need. Young says he's hearing shortages in everything from tomatoes to ti leaves to poi.

"Now with the graduation season coming along and the demand much higher, unfortunately we can't fulfill a lot of the orders," said Young.

It's not just the local eateries that are being affected. The manager of the Star Market in Kalihi says he's receiving half the amount of poi he usually gets.

A state report says the amount of taro used to make poi declined in the beginning of the year.

"Especially now with graduation, weddings and stuff, that's pretty hard because locals love poi," said Anderson.

So far, sales at Young's Fish Market have dropped nearly 10% in the last six months. The company says if vendors raise their prices, they may be forced to increase theirs as well.

This isn't the first time the state has had a poi shortage. Some say the worst shortage was right after Hurricane Iniki.