HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) has announced an agreement with product traceability company Oritain to build a database that verifies the origins of Hawaii-grown coffee. It’s good news for the state’s coffee industry and for people looking for something authentic.

HCA told KHON2 that counterfeiting Hawaii-grown coffee is widespread and unfair for local producers who are forced to compete on store shelves with products that aren’t authentic.

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“It creates downward price pressure and undermines Hawaii’s brands rooted in quality. This is particularly troublesome in the current economic climate wherein farmers costs are rapidly rising. The profit margins for Hawaii’s growers are shrinking,” said HCA executive director Chris Manfredi.

Manfredi said their new partnership with Oritain will allow them to sample green and roasted coffee to prove its origin, which will help build Hawaii’s coffee traceability and integrity.

Grant Cochrane, Oritain CEO, released the following statement in the announcement:

“Hawaii-grown coffee has earned a world-renowned reputation for its specialty status, farming practices and flavor profile. It is coffee that is unrivalled from anywhere else in the world. However, with such a strong reputation, brings a temptation to cheat by substituting coffee from other origins and labelling it has Hawaiian. This partnership marks a significant step in deterring this type of behavior by protecting the integrity and reputation of an important specialty crop.”

Grant Cochrane, Oritain CEO

“This technology has advanced in recent years, and it doesn’t come a moment too soon,” Manfredi added.

He shared that this partnership will strengthen the marketability of real Hawaii-grown coffee — it’s important for consumers to know where coffee is grown and where it’s not grown.

HOW IT WORKS

By measuring the chemical compositions of plants and animals, a product’s origin can be identified. When something is grown, it absorbs the unique ratio of elements depending on temperature, soil conditions and other factors. Oritain runs this data through their statistical models to produce an “Origin Fingerprint” that is then used to test samples as they move through the supply chain. Any samples that are not consistent with the Origin Fingerprint has likely been adulterated.

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A presentation about the technology and how it will be implemented for Hawaii coffee is scheduled on Saturday, May 21, at 12:45 p.m. during the 2022 HCA conference at the Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa.