Stricter Coffee Labeling Law Passes in State Legislature

House Bill 2298 CD1, introduced by Rep. Nicole E. Lowen, mandates that coffee labeled with a Hawaiʻi geographic origin must contain at least 51% coffee by weight from that region. This measure aims to protect Hawaiʻi’s origin products, combat deceptive labeling, and ensure regional-named products contain at least a majority of product from that region. The initiative is about protecting Kona’s world-renowned coffee, ensuring local farmers receive the prices they deserve for their products, and supporting Hawaiʻi’s economy.

For over three decades, the debate over the required percentage of coffee originating from the geographic area to qualify as Hawaiian coffee has persisted, with existing regulations set at a minimum of 10%. In 2022, the Legislature passed Act 222, which requested the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture (HDOA) to conduct a study on the impact of coffee labeling laws on coffee farmers and determine the economically ideal proportion of Kona beans in products marketed as Kona coffee.

The Final Report on the Economic Study on Changes in Coffee Labeling Law submitted by the HDOA on Jan. 18, 2024, highlights that increasing the minimum amount of Kona coffee from 10% to either 51% or 100% would be advantageous for local farmers, with a higher increase providing the most benefit. The proposed labeling changes could result in a price increase for Kona coffee while seeing minimal impact on quantities grown or sold.

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