The city of Hilo, population 45,648 and located on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii, has the priciest groceries of any American city. Hawaii is known for having a high cost of living, but with such a great climate for agriculture, why doesn’t it produce enough food to affordably sustain its population?
Local grocery stores are trying to encourage more people to buy local to increase demand and help motivate local farmers. KTA Super Stores Executive Vice President Derek Kurisu, told Big Island Now: “We advertise a lot in our print ads, radio, store signs and speeches to various organizations and classrooms. The emphasis is to promote locally grown or manufactured products. Our private label, Mountain Apple Brand, consists of locally grown or manufactured products.”
Many fruits and vegetables are actually cost-competitive with imported produce. Around 80% of tomatoes and all of the watercress is produced locally. According to the Hawaii DOA, consumers can be thrifty shopper while supporting local products by making sure to purchase watermelons, mangoes, avocados, apple bananas, dragon fruits, cabbages, Mānoa lettuce, basil, sweet potatoes and macadamia nuts that are produced locally.