By Ms. Lacey Justinger (USAG Hawaii)September 10, 2012
HONOLULU (Sept. 10, 2012) -- The promises from the Native Hawaiian Covenant and the Army Community Covenant were on display, Aug. 22, as military representatives met with local vendors during the 15th annual American Logistics Association, or ALA, Hawaii Show, here.
The Army in Hawaii has signed these two covenants to build stronger and more positive relationships in the local Hawaiian community.
"This is a great demonstration of the partnership in Hawaii between the public and private sector and the military presence, which is incredibly important to the local economy," said Patrick Nixon, president, ALA. "Hawaii has small, family-run businesses with unique flavors, and this show gives small businesses an opportunity to do business with the government."
Buyers and managers from ALA, the Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCA, and the Exchange toured booths, tasted samples and discussed marketing and distribution plans with 80 local companies from the Hawaiian Islands, choosing products that will be featured on store shelves.
In 2011, DeCA purchased $41.06 million of products from 94 Hawaiian companies and $5.1 million of fresh fruit and vegetables from 118 Hawaiian farms. The fresh produce includes 140 varieties and comes from Oahu, Maui, Molokai and the Big Island.
"We absolutely make an effort to buy local and organic produce and products," said Cindy Workman, a Commissary shopper. "We want to support local businesses and farmers as much as possible."
"I can't thank our military vendors enough for their support of our local vendors, especially farmers," said Rep. Mazie Hirono, who attended the show's opening ceremony.
Hirono said these partnerships with the Commissary and Exchange are critical opportunities to showcase Hawaiian products.
"The military is such an important part of our economy," she added.
"Produce from Hawaii makes a difference in freshness," said Danielle Manintin, while shopping at the Schofield Barracks Commissary.
Keith Hagenbuch, executive director, DeCA, said the four commissaries on Oahu serve 166,000 service and family members, and DeCA is constantly looking at new items to broaden stock assortment, keeping shelves fresh with new and innovative items.
"Customers vote on the products we keep stocked, based on rings through the register," Hagenbuch said.
From this year's show, more than 165 new items and 11 companies were picked up to stock Hawaiian commissaries.
"There was a large selection of organic products in this year's show, which is exceptional," said Susan Sturgeon-Campbell, store director, Schofield Barracks Commissary. "We picked up a lot of organic products because the demand is going more health conscious.
"We're looking for items that are different or unique, with flavors that highlight Hawaii."