Truth-in-Labeling Resolution For Hawaii-Grown Coffee

On October 15, 2014, the Truth in Labeling Resolution No. 501-14 introduced by Hawaii County Council Member Brenda Ford (South Kona, Ka’u) was presented for public testimony and for decision by the Hawaii County Council.  The Resolution, which urges the Hawaii State Legislature to reform the current 10% coffee labeling law, had been forwarded to the Council by its Agriculture, Water and Energy Committee on October 1st with a 6-0 vote favorably recommending the measure to the full Council. At the October 15 meeting testimony in support of the Resolution was given by 17 individuals (mostly coffee farmers); there was only one person who testified in opposition. Following the public testimony, the Council voted unanimously to adopt the Resolution which will be forwarded to the members of the State Legislature as a request from Hawaii County for legislative action. Attached is a copy of the Resolution.




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WHEREAS, the State of Hawai` i is the only place in the United States that can grow coffee for commercial purposes; and

WHEREAS, of the approximately 1, 100 coffee farmers statewide, approximately 1, 000 are on the Island ofHawai`i; and

WHEREAS, all coffee growing regions in the State of Hawai` i are negatively impacted if Hawai` i- grown coffees or coffee blends do not maintain high quality and excellent taste or receive negative cupping scores or publicity; and

WHEREAS,100%Hawai`i-growncoffeeshaveaworldwidereputationasapremiercoffee and for its distinctive and rich flavor; and


specifically including the geographic origin and percentage of all coffees in ageographically- identified coffee blend; and

WHEREAS, it is inherently deceptive and misleading to label coffee as a geographically- identified blend(such as ” HamakuaBlend” or” Ka’u Blend” or” KonaBlend”) unlessatleasta

majority (51%) ofthe coffee is from that region; and

WHEREAS, the following attempts have been made to provide the consumers of Hawai` i-

grown coffees sufficient and material information to make an informed decision regarding their potential purchase of Hawai` i-grown coffees:

June 13, 1986, the Governor v e to e d House B ill 2142 (HSCR 472-, SSCR 711- 86)

which required a minimum of ten percent Kona coffee in the blend to use the ” Kona” name

on the package and required any person involved with roasting, handling, processing,

selling, blending, packaging, or labeling any Kona coffee or Kona coffee blend to keep and make available for inspection records of quantities of coffees received versus quantities


In 1990, the Hawai` i County Council on Economic Development sought State

legislation protecting the interests of Hawai` i County farmers by requiring that at least 51% of a blend should be Kona before it could be labeled as a” Kona blend” but the Council’ s

position was sharply opposed by Honolulu’ s largest blender, Superior Tea and Coffee ( a C. Brewercompany);and


June 19, 1991, after the Legislature had disregarded the request of the Hawai`i

County Council on Economic Development, the Governor approved Senate Bill 0154 SSCR 535, HSCR 1210) which allowed the use of the names of Hawai`i-grown coffees


called the standard ” false advertising” because it allowed Kona coffee beans to be mixed with low-grade beans, twigs and other debris. Another Kona coffee grower, Michael

Craig, described the misuse of the name ” Kona” as a misuse of the cultural heritage of Hawaii; and

May 26, 2006, the Hawai` i State Democratic Party adopted a resolution recommending truth- in- labeling measures for Kona coffee; and

December 20, 2006, the Hawai` i County Council adopted Resolution No. 18- 06 requesting the Hawai` i State Legislature to revise and clarify Hawai` i Revised Statutes Section 486- 120. 6 and recommend that any coffee labeled ” Kona Coffee Blend” shall have a minimum of75%Konacoffeeandshallbelabeledaccordingly;and

January 18, 2007, House Bill No. 72, which incorporated the recommendations of Resolution No. 18-06, was introduced in the State House of Representatives, and on

January 19, 2007, an identical bill (Senate Bill No. 661) was introduced in the State Senate; and

January 2007, the Hawai`i State Democratic Party made House Bill No. 72 and Senate Bill No. 661 part of the Party’s legislative package; and

April27,2007,theHawai`iStateLegislatureadoptedSenateConcurrentResolution No. 102, SDI, HD1, which stated, in part, the following:

1. 2.

3. Confusion as to the difference between Kona coffee and Kona coffee blends caused ConsumerReportsmagazine torate Konacoffee as”second rate”; and

May 3, 2014, the Hawai` i County Democratic Party Convention adopted Resolution No.8requiringaminimum of51%originproductinallcoffeegrowninHawai`ilabeled

withaHawai`ioriginandadoptedResolutionNo.12requiringaminimum of51%Kona-

grown coffee in any coffee package labeled as a ” Kona Blend” and prominent identification on the label stating the country or region of origin of the non-Kona portion. On May 24, 2014,afterhavingbeenreadaletterinoppositionfromthepresidentofHawai`i’slargest coffee blending company, the delegates to the State Democratic Party Convention declined to adopt these Hawai` i County resolutions; and

WHEREAS, there is no opposition to the practice often used by coffee roasters to blend various roasts or various origins to create unique flavor profiles; however, the basic principles of

consumer protection and fair marketing are violated when blenders mislead consumers by using an g e o g ra p h ic – o rig in n a m e (” Ka’u”, ” Maui” o r” Kona”) inthenameofablendthatcontainsonlya

small percentage of coffee grown in that region. Blending is fine; deceptive labeling of blends is not; and

Existing labeling requirements for Kona coffee causes consumer fraud.

Existing labeling requirements for Kona coffee degrades the ” Kona coffee” name.



WHEREAS,nowhere on thelabelsof 10%Hawai`icoffeeblendsareconsumersadvised

that 90% ofthecoffeeinthepackagesisimported,foreign-growncoffeeormaybeamixtureof multipleHawaiianregionsandforeign-growncoffee;and

WHEREAS,not identifyingtheorigin ofthe90%portionofacoffeeblendisinherently deceptive to consumers who are often erroneously led to believe that the entire amount of coffee in thepackageisacoffeeblendofmanyKonafarms’oranotherHawaiianregion’scoffee;and

WHEREAS,theHawai`iStateLegislaturehasnotprotectedtheregionalcoffeesgrownin the state ofHawai`i; and

WHEREAS, Hawai` i is the only region anywhere in the world that authorizes by law the use of itsgeographic names (” Kona”,”Ka’u”,” Hamakua”) onlabelsofitsspecialtyagriculture


WHEREAS, it is essential that the Hawai`i State Legislature act immediately to stop the consumer fraud, deception, and confusion that continues due to existing labeling requirements for Hawai`i-grown coffees of any region or district; and

WHEREAS, the blenders currently gain immense excess profits from using cheaper

commodity coffees from other areas of the world (Viet Nam, Mexico, Panama, Africa, Brazil, etc.)tofill90%ofthecoffeeblend,andthoseexcessprofitsbenefittheMainlandcorporate


WHEREAS, to protect the consumers by providing genuine ” truth-in-labeling” and full-disclosure”, the Hawai`i Revised Statutes § 486- 120.6 (b) needs to be amended as indicated

in Exhibit A, attached; and


For consumer protection and information, the majority portion of the package should be listed on

the front label first followed by the next largest portion of the contents and its percentage

followed by the next lowest portion, et cetera in the same font size required for the identity statementinHRS486-120-6(a)(3). Forexample:

51% Ka’u Coffee,
49% Vietnamese Coffee ( This could also be stated as ” Foreign- grown” coffee.)”

51% Hamakua Coffee,

45% Mexican Coffee, 4%otherHawai`i-GrownCoffees”;and

WHEREAS, immediate legislative action is necessary to protect the reputation of Hawai` i- grown coffees as premier, specialty coffees from further degradation; now, therefore,

BEITRESOLVEDBYTHECOUNCILOFTHECOUNTYOFHAWAIIthat the Hawai` i State Legislature is requested to schedule committee hearings, give floor consideration,

and adopt into law provisions for truth- in- labeling for Hawai` i- grown coffees providing: 3


1) 2)

FortheuseofaHawai`igeographic-originnameinthelabelingoradvertisingofa coffee blendonlyifthecoffee blendcontainsatleast51%fromthatorigin;and

A change from voluntary to mandatory of the current provisions of HRS 486- 120.6(b) as recommended above to provide for full and genuine identification on

the front panel of the geographic origin of all coffee contained in any coffee blend using a Hawai` i geographic origin name.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the County Clerk shall forward copies of this resolution to the Honorable Mayor William P. Kenoi, the Hawai` i County Department of Research and Development, the Honorable Governor Neil S. Abercrombie, the Hawai` i State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and all members ofthe Hawai`i State Senate and HouseofRepresentatives.

Datedat Hawai`i,this dayof INTRODUCED BY:


COUNTY COUNCIL CountyofHawaii Hilo, Hawaii

IherebycertifythattheforegoingRESOLUTIONwasby thevoteindicatedtotherighthereofadoptedbytheCOUNCILofthe


County ofHawai`ion






C- 998. 2/ AWESC 501 14






486-120.6 Hawaii-grown roasted or instant coffee; labeling requirements.

In addition to all other labeling requirements, the identity statement used for labeling or advertising roasted or instant coffee produced in whole or in part from Hawaii-grown green coffee beans shall meet the following requirements:

1) For roasted or instant coffee that contains one hundred per cent Hawaii-grown coffee by weight the identity statement shall consist of either:






For roasted or instant coffee consisting of a blend of one or more Hawaii-grown coffees and coffee not grown in Hawaii, the per cent coffee by weight of one of the Hawaii-grown coffees used in the blend, followed by the geographic origin of theweight-specified coffee and theterm “CoffeeBlend”;and

Each word or character in the identity statement shall be of the same type size andshallbecontiguous.Thesmallestletterorcharacteroftheidentitystatement on packages of sixteen ounces or less net weight shall be at least one and one-half timesthetypesizerequiredunderfederallawforthestatementofnetweightor three-sixteenths of an inch in height, whichever is smaller. The smallest letter or

character of the identity statement on packages of greater than sixteen ounces net weight shall be at least one and one-halftimes the type size required under federal

law for the statement of net weight. The identity statement shall be conspicuously displayed without any intervening material in aposition above the statement of net weight. Upper and lower case letters may be used interchangeably in the identity statement.



The geographic origin of the Hawaii- grown coffee, in coffee consisting of beans from only one geographic origin, followed by the word ” Coffee”; provided that the geographic origin may be immediately preceded by the term “100%”; or

The per cent coffee by weight of one of the Hawaii-grown coffees, used in

coffee consisting of beans from several geographic origins, followed by the geographic origin of the weight-specified coffee and the terms

Coffee” and ” A ll Hawaiian”;

origins of the various coffees not grown in Hawaii that are included in ablend [may] shall be shown on thelabel.[Ifused, this]Thislistshallconsistoftheterm “Contains:”,followedby,in

descending order of per cent by weight and separated by commas, the respective geographic origin orregionaloriginofthevariouscoffeesintheblend[thatthemanufacturerchoosesto

list]. Each geographic origin or regional origin [may] shall be preceded by the per cent of coffee

by weight represented by that geographic origin or regional origin, expressed as a number

followed by the per cent sign. The type size used for this list shall not [ exceed] be less than half thatoftheidentitystatement.Thislistshallappearbelowtheidentitystatement[, ifincluded]on

the frontpanel ofthe label.



It shall be a violation of this section to:


Roasters, manufacturers, or other persons who package roasted or instant coffee covered











Use the identity statement specified in subsection ( a)( 1)( A) or similar terms in

labeling or advertising unless the package of roasted or instant coffee contains one hundred per cent coffee from that one geographic origin;

Use a geographic origin in labeling or advertising, including in conjunction with a coffee style or in any other manner, if the roasted or instant coffee contains less than [ten] fifty-one per cent coffee by weight from that geographic origin;

Use a geographic origin in advertising roasted or instant coffee, including

advertising in conjunction with a coffee style or in any other manner, without

disclosing the percentage of coffee used from that geographic origin as described in subsection (a)( 1)( B) and (a)(2);

Use a geographic origin in labeling or advertising roasted or instant coffee,

including in conjunction with acoffee style or in any other manner, if the green coffee beans used in that roasted or instant coffee do not meet the grade standard


Misrepresent,onalabelorinadvertisingofaroastedorinstantcoffee,theper cent coffee by weight of any coffee from a geographic origin or regional origin;

Use the term “All Hawaiian” on alabel or in advertising of aroasted or instant coffee if the roasted or instant coffee is not produced entirely from green coffee beans produced in geographic origins defined in this chapter;

Use a geographic origin on the front label panel of a package of roasted or instant

coffee other than in the trademark or in the identity statement as authorized in subsection (a)( 1) and (2) unless one hundred per cent of the roasted or instant coffee contained in the package is from that geographic origin;

Use more than one trademark on a package of roasted or instant coffee unless one hundred per cent of the roasted or instant coffee contained in the package is from

that geographic origin specified by the trademark;

Use a trademark that begins with the name of a geographic origin on a package of roastedorinstantcoffeeunlessonehundredpercentoftheroastedorinstant coffee contained in the package comes from that geographic origin or the trademark ends with words that indicate a business entity; or

Print the identity statement required by subsection ( a) in a smaller font than that used for a trademark that includes the name of a geographic origin pursuant to paragraph (7) and in a location other than the front label panel of a package of roasted or instant coffee.

by this section shall maintain, for a period of two years, records on the volume and geographic origin or regional origin of coffees purchased and sold and any other records required by the department for the purpose of enforcing this section. Authorized employees of the department shall have access to these records during normal business hours.



e) For the purpose of this section:

Geographic origin” means the geographic regions in which Hawaii-grown green coffee beans are produced, as defined in rules adopted under chapter 147; provided that the term ” Hawaiian”

may be substituted for the geographic origin ” Hawaii”.

Per cent coffee by weight” means the percentage calculated by dividing the weight in pounds of roasted green coffee beans of one geographic or regional origin used in a production run of

roasted or instant coffee, by the total weight in pounds of the roasted green coffee beans used in that production run of roasted or instant coffee, and multiplying the quotient by one hundred.

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