(BIVN) – A bill that intends to protect the Hawaiʻi coffee brand by requiring more accurate labeling and designation of origin for blended coffee passed the State House on third reading Tuesday.
House Bill 144 HD1 “requires coffee blend labels to disclose regional origins and percent by weight of the blended coffees,” and “prohibits using geographic origins of coffee in labeling or advertising for roasted or instant coffee that contains less than 51 percent coffee by weight from that geographic origin.”
“I’ve worked in the coffee industry at Lion Coffee, Superior Coffee, Royal Kona Coffee,” said State Representative Bob McDermott, who – along with fellow Republican, Rep. Gene Ward – voted against the bill. “This is a battle that goes on every year and it appears that in order to call coffee a Kona blend you’re gonna have to have 51% of the coffee be Kona coffee. The reason they don’t use 51% now is because Kona coffee is just prohibitively expensive. It’s $12, $14 dollars a pound, I don’t know. But it’s very expensive so they blend it and thereby blending it they sell more coffee as a Kona blend.”