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    Commissaries, Exchanges promote Hawaii business

    Commissaries, Exchanges promote Hawaii business

    Photo By Karen Iwamoto | WAIKIKI — K&K Distributors showcased its display of healthy snack options at the...... read more read more



    Story by Karen Iwamoto 

    U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii

    WAIKIKI — The American Logistics Association (ALA) Hawaii Show celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Pacific Beach Hotel this year with a surprise announcement, Tuesday.

    Starting next year, it will officially be renamed the Daniel K. Akaka ALA Hawaii Show.

    Retired U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka was instrumental in getting the show off the ground in 1997 and fostering a growing relationship between the Defense Commissary Agency, Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Navy Exchange and Hawaii businesses. He continued to show his support at this year’s show and said he was honored to have it renamed for him.

    “I’m honored to be attached to this program, which has become important to military not just in Hawaii but on the mainland and around the world,” Akaka said. “Since I was a U.S. senator on the Armed Services Committee, I always felt strongly that the military families needed to be recognized and supported. I felt that a program like this would give support to those families while also supporting Hawaii’s businesses and food industry.”

    U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, who made the announcement before the crowd of government representatives, military officials and business owners, described the name change as a fitting way to recognize Akaka for his dedication to military families.

    “Way back in 1997, Sen. Akaka recognized the potential in connecting Hawaii businesses with the ecommissary network, and he worked with commissary, exchange and ALA leadership to create this event to place Hawaii products in military commissaries – not just in our country but throughout the world,” she said. “And through his efforts, thousands of products have been marketed at the Hawaii show. Many of them are sold throughout the commissary network worldwide.”

    Beyond food vendors
    Sharon Zambo-Fan, chairwoman of the ALA Hawaii Show, said the show could not have grown to what it is today without Akaka.

    “I’d like to see the show continue to grow,” she added. “I’d like to see it expand into nonfood items, like key chains, furniture, other locally made goods.”

    Melanie Hatchie, operations manager of Oils of Aloha, was one of the few vendors showcasing nonedible products. She said her company’s line of soaps, lip balms and body lotions are already stocked in local exchanges, but she’s hoping to get them onto commissary shelves as well.

    Products that start out in Hawaii’s commissaries and exchanges can expand to commissaries and exchanges on the continental United States and the mainland.

    The Defense Commissary Agency grosses $5 billion in annual sales with Hawaii’s commissaries on Schofield Barracks, Pearl Harbor, Hickam and Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay – accounting for $225 million.

    New and innovative products
    Brad McMinn, director of the Schofield Barracks Commissary, said he’s looking for new and innovative products that will stand out in his store.

    “I’m not looking for what I already have,” he said.

    Mike Choy, co-owner of Ilio Products, said he believed he had just such a product. He was at the show to promote Go Go Pet’s Stressless Venison Premium Treats, a line of dog treats made from locally sourced Axis deer meet. Ilio Products is the distributor of the treats.

    Axis deer live predator-free on Maui, Molokai and Lanai, and their population needs to be culled to prevent ecological disaster. Instead of letting that meat go to waste, Choy has found a way to market it.

    He said his product is made of human-grade ingredients, but he’s selling it as pet treats because there isn’t enough venison to meet people’s rate of consumption.

    “Our goal is to get our message out about how different and special (this product) is,” he said. “We’ve already thought about maybe having demos at (military exchanges and commissaries) or having an informational video run next to the product display.

    “We believe, given the opportunity, the military community will support us and this product,” he continued. “They’re part of the community and they care about Hawaii and environmental issues. A part of our proceeds goes to organizations that support our coastlines.”

    Start small
    Thomas Kerwin of Aloha Gourmet brought a handful of items – cookies, shredded coconut and chocolate-dipped dried mango – to show to potential buyers. He said his company already has some products in Hawaii’s commissaries, but he’s hoping to expand that.

    “We come to this show every year to showcase our items and meet with the buyers,” he said. “We may not get all of the products we show onto shelves, but even if it’s just one or two, that’s enough.”

    It’s a strategy that’s worked for Mike Irish, owner of Diamond Head Seafood. Diamond Head Seafood holds contracts to run the seafood counters in local commissaries, and its sauces and condiments have made it to commissaries on the continental United States. But 20 years ago, when he first met with commissary officials, they only accepted about three of his company’s products.

    “I thought they didn’t like my products,” he admitted. “But I just kept trying. The second year they took five products, the third year nine or 10. As they got to know who I was and learned that I was committed to the commissaries, they grew more committed to my products and company.

    “We don’t usually do food shows, but we always do this one,” he added. “The only reason we do this show is to show our appreciation for the men and women who fight for our country. We may not be able to serve this country, but we can serve the men and women who do.”

    Today, his is one of the Hawaii businesses that bring in more than $1 million in sales through the commissary system.



    Date Taken: 08.15.2017
    Date Posted: 08.18.2017 17:16
    Story ID: 245316
    Location: WAIKIKI, HI, US

    Web Views: 214
    Downloads: 0