Local Companies Get a Chance to Sell Products to Military Exchanges and Commissaries

Aug 15, 2017

Former Hawai'i Senator, Daniel K. Akaka (center) unties the Maile to officially open the American Logistics Association Hawai'i Exhibition at the Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki. Senator Mazie Hirono is on Akaka's right. The 2018 exhibition is named for Akaka, the event's founder.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Since 1997, the American Logistics Association has sponsored an annual Food Show in Hawai’i, featuring local products that could be sold at Military Stores, better known as Commissaries and Exchanges.  HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports. 

Hawai’i’s four military exchanges and commissaries feature the most locally-made products in the world, ringing up more than 21 million dollars in annual sales for local companies.  Seventy local vendors with 800 products were featured at this year’s American Logistics Association exhibition.  Dave Pang, owner of Ilio Products, has a unique doggie treat made from invasive species.

Dave Pang, owner of Ilio Products
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

“There’s about 250-thousand heads of Axis deer here in Hawai’i.  The DLNR basically contracted some guys to basically do the culling.  So we worked it out with them, that we’ll take all the venison that’s not a human-grade product.  We actually put it into freezer containers here, we ship them to the mainland and they grind it up and process it.  I mean, any dog that’s tried it loves it because this is stressless venison.  In Hawai’i, there’s no predator, they have no stress, it doesn’t create that enzymes.  The meat is actually sweeter so its not as gamey.”

The Wild Venison treats are already sold in local, mainland and other stores worldwide.   Diamond Bakery, which has been in operation in Kalihi for 96 years, is in the process of innovating and transforming.  Maggie Lee is the company’s sales and marketing director.

Diamond Bakery products.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

“People think about Diamond Bakery, first thing come to mind is soda crackers.  But we need to look beyond that because we need to reach out to the younger audience.  So you can see the 3 cookies here, we have:  kake mochi, coffee mac nut and double chocolate.  So you can see the packaging is much brighter.  It’s for the modern lifestyle, people grab and go, skewering to the younger lifestyle.”

Paul Logan opened Uncle’s Ice Cream four years ago on O’ahu’s North Shore.  He says military commissary sales could provide an opportunity for the business to grow.

Paul Logan, owner of Uncle's Ice Cream on O'ahu's North Shore
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

“We bake the cookies.  We make the ice cream.  We try to use local flavors where we can.  Bananas, macadamia nuts; Lilikoi, I grow some of that myself; the rest comes from Wahiawa.  The coffee is Waialua coffee; we roast it ourselves.  We are completing a new kitchen so we have the capacity to get a lot bigger than we were.”

Puna Noni is a family-owned business in Kailua.  It produces Noni bottled juices, capsules and body care products.   Subadra Nishiki is a sales representative.

“Noni is actually a fruit.  Not the prettiest fruit but it’s basically like Hawai’i’s super fruit.  Some of the more common things people use it for is anything to do with

Puna Noni representatives (L-R) Subadra Nishiki and Nakula Tibby

digestion problems, arthritis, diabetes, and also there a lot of aniti-aging benefits.  Lot of vitamin C for immune boosting.  It’s really good.”

Senator Mazie Hirono attended the first exhibit in 1997 and says any of the products being sampled could be sold nationally and internationally.   The companies would then join Hawai’i’s million dollar club like Hawaiian Host and Diamond Head Seafood Wholesale.

“Every time I come to this, which I’ve been coming to apparently for almost 20 years, there’s always new products.  Lots of creativity and entrepreneur activity in Hawai’i.  This is a real success story of getting Hawai’i products into our commissaries and exchanges all over the world, at this point.”

And, to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the ALA Hawai’i Exhibition, it’s being named for its founder,  Senator Daniel K. Akaka.   Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.