By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsSeptember 2, 2008
WAIKIKI, Hawaii - The smell of fresh 100-percent Kona coffee permeated the Mauna Kea Ballroom at the Hawaii Prince Hotel here, Aug. 21, for the 11th Annual American Logistics Association Hawaii Food Show. Skipping the usual eggs and toast breakfast, more than 20 Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) buyers dined on samples of pulled pork, steak with pesto seasoning, burgers and sushi in the early morning hours. Buyers juggled plates and free samples from more than 80 companies wishing to sell their products in Oahu's commissaries, many of whom are small and family-owned businesses of Hawaii. Buyers evaluated numerous food and grocery-related products, choosing the best items to suit the needs of military families in Hawaii. The show also gave DeCA buyers the opportunity to interact one-on-one with business owners before selecting new products that will be placed on the shelves of the five military commissaries on Oahu. "These products embody the people of Hawaii," said Scott Simpson, director for DeCA West. "Our customers travel all over the world and enjoy local flavor of many cultures. They want products that are outstanding and unique to Hawaii." The American Logistics Association Hawaii Food Show has grown in success in more than 10 years of operation, climbing from 12 vendors in its first year to 81 in 2008. This year DeCA selected a total of 251 new products for commissary shelves, representing 17 of the 41 new companies showcased, according to Richard Page, chief operating officer for DeCA. Many companies already lining the shelves of the commissaries displayed new products and seasonal items, while half of the vendors at the show attempted to do business with DeCA for the first time. Included in the first time businesses was locally owned and operated Hawaiian Kine Dressing. "We're the new kids on the block," said owner Hope Lee, "but we believe in our product. We make practical products that taste gourmet." "She comes up with all of the recipes," said Lee's husband, Greg. "I do all of her advertising right here," he added, grabbing his love handles. The small business made a big impact at the show with its Marinade and Ono Pineapple Drizzle, currently set to sell in the commissaries. Also selected was Hawaiian Vanilla Company, which piqued buyers' interest with its line of all-natural products, including vanilla beans and vanilla extract. The family business, run by Big Island resident Jim Reddekopp along with his wife and three children, will introduce its products to military families this year. "We are the first commercial 'Vanilla-ery' in the country," said Reddekopp. "I think we have something great to offer with our organic and natural products." "This is a great product and very unique to Hawaii," said Susan Campbell, store director for the Schofield Barracks Commissary. Oils of Aloha, first supplying commissaries in Hawaii in 2007, moved into a larger market and will begin selling its products in commissaries in Alaska, Guam, Korea and Japan, this year. Sol de Cuba brought back the mojo again this year - honey style - adding a honey marinade and mango salsa to the existing mojo marinates that hit commissary shelves last year. In continued efforts to "go green," DeCA buyers will stock shelves with reusable mesh shopping bags from Bags and Wraps, and biodegradable cutlery and plates made from sugar cane and corn starch from Styrophobia, which is distributed by Diamond Head Distributors. "I find these items to be an outstanding choice as we are all looking at ways to protect our planet," said Campbell. The revolutionary and sought-after product Body Mint, distributed by Pet Mint, will soon be available at commissaries as well. Body Mint pills are made from an all-natural ingredients with a unique formula to remedy body odors from multiple sources, including bad breath, underarm, perspiration. The product was first introduced to Soldiers overseas, and the demand was overwhelming, according to sales representative Rona Yim. "Soldiers are always in close quarters and on the go," said Yim. "This product works from the inside out and can help reduce some of the stress of worrying about personal hygiene." Other items from new companies included pure noni juice from Noni Connection, Jade Food's crack seed snacks, Kona-flavored coffee from Classic Sales, and coffee- and chocolate-covered coffee beans from Aikane Plantation Coffee Co. The following companies won contracts to sell products in Oahu's commissaries: Aca,!AcAffinities
Aca,!AcAikane Plantation Coffee Co.
Aca,!AcAuntie Ono's Gourmet Cookies
Aca,!AcCorner Store Dairy
Aca,!AcDiamond Head Distributors
Aca,!AcHawaiian Kine LLC
Aca,!AcHawaiian Vanilla Co.
Aca,!AcJade Food Products
Aca,!AcJohnson Brothers of Hawaii
Aca,!AcLand of Organica