Pineapple cannery in Hawaii to close

May 7: Hawaii’s pineapple canning plant – thought to be the last of its kind in the US – is being closed at the end of June. And that means the end of its associated canmaking plant.
Maui Land & Pineapple Company (ML&P) says it is consolidating its pineapple operations to focus on fresh fruit sales as part of a plan to operate its pineapple business more efficiently.
Thailand and the Philippines are the largest producers of pineapples each with 11 percent of the roughly 15 million tons harvested annually.
ML&P will cease processing solid-pack canned pineapple products at its Kahului cannery on June 30. The company will continue to process pineapple juice and extend its fresh fruit line to include product for institutional accounts.
“This consolidation is necessary as we work to develop a profitable business model for our pineapple company,” said David Cole, chief executive of ML&P. “While we have experienced favourable customer acceptance and improved pricing power in our fresh fruit business, the competitive dynamics in the processed market dictate that we not invest further in solid pack operations.
“We are in a situation where we need to cut some jobs to save many others. Fortunately the bulk of our agricultural workforce is concentrated in our fresh fruit segment,” Cole added. “We are very grateful for the many years of service provided by our solid pack cannery employees and we will work closely with them to smooth this transition, including offering employment in other parts of the company.”
The closure will mean the loss if 120 jobs, some of which could be transferred to the fresh fruit packaging operations, said the company.
“We have invested approximately $38 million to expand our pineapple operations during the past three and a half years,” explained Cole. “Today we are focused on the premium fresh pineapple segment where we have seen high customer satisfaction and expanding margins. By discontinuing operations that are no longer competitive, we are able to concentrate on the fresh fruit segment where we have best chance for achieving and sustaining a niche market for Maui-grown pineapple.”