Categorized | Agriculture, Featured

Tropical fruit growers laud Choice Mart

HTFG Treasurer Dick Kuehner helps Choice Mart Produce Manager Tom Palusak install a new Local Produce sign in the Captain Cook store. The grocer was awarded the sign by the statewide HTFG for featuring local produce in the first aisle. (Photo courtesy of HTFG)

MEDIA RELEASE

The statewide Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) is recognizing South Kona grocer Choice Mart at Kealakekua Ranch Center for offering local produce “first and foremost” to customers.

HTFG’s board of directors recently presented the supermarket with attractive, custom signage reading “Local Produce.”

“What Choice Mart does with local produce should be a model for the rest of the state,” said Ken Love, HTFG president. “Hawaii residents should be able to walk into a store and see our oranges and our avocados — not imports! I’ve yet to see a major grocery store, on any of the islands, feature local produce consistently up front. Choice Mart deserves this well-earned recognition.”

Choice Mart displays a wide range of local fruit and vegetables in the first aisle of its store. The grocer buys fresh, just-picked produce from more than 50 local growers.

“Local produce is the first thing you see when entering our store,” said Tom Palusak, Choice Mart produce manager. “Most of our customers are local so we focus on buying and selling local.”

Since moving the local produce to the first aisle, sales of avocados, oranges, tangerines, strawberries, pineapple and even jaboticaba, “have increased more than 50 percent” Palusak said.

Harold Moodie of Hiolani Enterprises sells his mangoes and other exotic tropical fruits at Choice Mart.

“Choice Mart is willing to work with us small growers,” said Moodie, whose orchard is above the Kona International Airport. “The store is willing to buy small amounts as the fruit is ready.”

Moodie said he sells 50 to 60 pounds of fruit there twice weekly during mango season.

Another grower, Joan Lamont of Happy Honu Farm in North Kona, said Choice Mart’s willingness to effectively market local produce is a win-win for the grocer, the grower and the customer.

“It serves those customers who want to eat local produce as well as helps us small farmers by making our produce readily available to the public…” she said. “Choice Mart has done a wonderful job in labeling which produce is local as well. More and more people want to buy locally; Choice Mart has listened to its customers.”

Moodie and Lamont said their association with Choice Mart has been positive as the produce department crew makes them feel “welcome and wanted” when delivering their goods. They also have become Choice Mart shoppers, even though the grocer is out of their neighborhood.

“The store is clean and neat, offers a wide variety of products and has wonderful produce and meat departments,” Lamont said.

“Their prices are decent,” Moodie said.

Incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii, HTFG is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion.

— Find out more:
www.hawaiitropicalfruitgrowers…

3 Responses to “Tropical fruit growers laud Choice Mart”

  1. Claudia says:

    What an awesome example to retailers here. I hope more will do this, especially near where I live in Puna, or Hilo where I work. Thanks for the feature.

  2. Ken Love says:

    Hi Claudia, thanks for your comment. Choice Mart should be a model for the state. What we need you and others to do is go tell this to store managers! You want to see local up front and not imported apples. Then you have to back that up by making sure the avocados and bananas you buy are local and not the imports that stores sell. Choice Mart is the only major grocery to sell only local avocados.
    Good luck
    ken

  3. James says:

    Super cool article and HUGE KUDOS to Choice Mart and Store Manager Ron Kerr and his team. I totally agree that this should be a model for the state, and also across the country! Shipping chemically-treated and genetically-engineered foods around the world WILL be a thing of the past (in some most awesome future!).

    I am SO glad to see this article as I immediately noticed the great labeling across the store. I LOVED being able to see where all the products came from. An educated consumer IS an aware consumer… Thank you Choice Mart for opening my eyes that much further… Some knowledge leads to a thirst for more. With GMOs flooding the state, everyone who eats should care about these issues.

    For example, it saddened me to learn that the “Ocean Salad” with all that healthy seaweed was a “PRODUCT OF CANADA-FARM-PRE FRZN”; the “Sesame Taco Poke” was “PRODUCT OF CANADA-PRE FROZEN”, and more shocking the “Ahi Poke” was “PRODUCT OF PHILIPPINES-WILD CAUGHT-PRE FROZEN”. I wonder how many tourists, and perhaps even more important local Hawaiians, appreciate where their next round of pupus REALLY came from…

    For example, here has a great information and a local seafood guide:
    http://www.slowfoodhawaii.org/local.html
    Though after hearing Captain Charlie Moore discuss our plastic ocean and the impacts on fish (and us), I have resolved to consume even less fish…

    Much Aloha and keep up the good stuff!
    Malama Pono,
    James

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