Costco considers farming in Hawaii

Local News

We have Costco stores but what would you think about having a Costco farm here in the islands? State officials say Costco has a serious interest in growing its own products right here.

We’re told Costco is still exploring the idea so nothing is set in stone, but conversations have already begun. We wanted to find out what local farmers thought about it as well. 

Thousands of families make a weekly trip to Costco. Many items that we buy are imported, but that may change in the future. 

“At this point in time, Costco has expressed very serious interest in doing agricultural growing of products in Hawaii,” said Letitia Uyehara, Board Chair of the state Agribusiness Development Corporation. “I do know their focus is trying to reduce imports so that does mean things we import a lot of they would like to see if they can grow here.”

Uyehara says Costco’s interest aligns with the state’s goal of growing more of our own food. She tells us Costco is still researching to see if it’s feasible for the company to farm in Hawaii. Limited land and resources make farming a challenge.

“Land is very scarce here in Hawaii. As an island state too, there are lots of other costs that are tied to agriculture,” said Uyehara. 

The president of Hawaii Farmers Union United, an advocacy group for family farmers, says he hopes that whatever Costco has in mind it would include collaboration with local farmers. 

“My main concern would be that when you’re growing food here locally, which is their prerogative as a business, how will that displace farmers? Or how will it support our farmers?” asks HFUU President Vincent Mina. “What would be wonderful is to develop viable business plans around agriculture that we could have a sense of a cooperative that could be developed within the local community.”

A representative of Costco tells us at this time Costco is not ready to discuss any more than what has been openly reported. They may have more information in the coming weeks.

In this year’s State of the State Address, Governor David Ige mentioned:

“Companies like Costco want to build high-tech greenhouses and use these new agricultural techniques in Hawaii to complement the food production of local farmers and replace fruits and vegetables from out of state.” 

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