Hawaii vendors pitch products at ALA Food Show

Fred Siaosi, president of Bony Acai, talks to Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) buyers.

Fred Siaosi, president of Bony Acai, talks to Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) buyers.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Staff Writer

Even in a slow economy, local vendors made the annual trip to the Hawaii Prince Hotel to audition their products at the 16th Annual American Logistics Association (ALA) Hawaii Food Show, which was held Oct. 16.

A total of 67 companies presented a wide variety of products that included local-made items, such as premium coffees, barbecue sauces, ice cream, cookies and other mouth-watering foods, in hopes of introducing their merchandise into the lucrative commissary marketplace.

“We were still able to get 67 companies here,” said Hawaiian Sun sales and marketing manager and food show co-chair Mark Honda. “So that shows support from the local community. They are still hungry for business.”

Honda also stated that among the businesses, 14 were first timers, and he credited Hawaii’s unique culture for the continuous flow of creative products.

“Hawaii is creative because of its diversity,” he said. “Thinking of all the creative things they come up with and, lo and behold, look at all of these products that are coming out.”

Eyvinne Umemoto, store director of Pearl Harbor Commissary, said that he is always surprised by the number of new foodstuffs are auditioned every year.

Each show seems to highlight a theme or trend, Umemoto said, and this year was no different.

“They are coming out with some healthier products this year,” Umemoto pointed out. “Basically, I try to focus a lot of attention on that because a lot of customers are asking for that when they come into the store. gluten-free, sugar-free products, stuff like that.”

First-time vendor Calvin Iwashita was among the many companies that featured healthy fare at the food show.

President of JC International, which operates out of Haleiwa, Iwashita said he hopes his variety of meatless meals will make an impact among Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) buyers.

Made mainly out of soy, Iwashita’s products offer healthy alternatives to ground beef and chicken, which he used in recipes for meatless chili, beef tofu and lasagna, and mock orange chicken.

“Somebody that liked my product told me that they wanted to buy it in the commissary and that’s what started [it],” said Iwashita, whose company has been doing business with the local marketplace for 18 years. “My goal has always been to expose my products to people that are health conscious. I really like to show people how to eat healthier.”

The show also featured vendors who offered healthy sweet alternatives.

Onopops was giving it their second try at breaking into the commissary.

The business, run by Joe Welch and Josh Lanthier-Welch, creates frozen treats on a stick that are made locally using organic ingredients.

Flavors include Mexican chocolate, strawberry lemonade, Kona latte, pineapple vanilla and butter mochi.

Kauai Cookies new line includes butter Kauai coffee macadamia nut, butter passion fruit macadamia nut and butter haupia, made with zero trans fats.

Hawaii Coffee Company, which distributes Lion Coffee, Royal Kona Coffee and Hawaiian Islands Tea, has a new line of java that featured local restaurateur Alan Wong’s name.

Sharon Zambo-Fan, ALA Hawaii show co-chair, said that besides offering a lucrative marketplace for local vendors to sell their products, area companies love doing business with the commissary system because of the tremendous support they receive.

Not only is the commissary and exchange good for local businesses, Zambo-Fan said, but the continual commitment to offer service members the most number of choices is a great benefit for military-affiliated families.

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Category: News