Hawaiian lawmakers propose stricter Coffee labelling Act
Recently, lawmakers representing the Kona district of Hawaii have been proposing a series of bills requiring stricter labelling requirements for single-origin coffee and blended beans containing Hawaiian-grown coffee.
In the proposed bill, it is stated that the mixture will include the amount of coffee from designated sources, from 25% to 100%. It is also stipulated that coffee mixtures from multiple Hawaiian sources must clearly identify and include the percentage of each type of coffee. At the same time, under the proposed law, packaging mixtures of Hawaiian coffee and coffee from other countries of origin must include percentage and Hawaiian origin. In addition to the supporting state legislatures and Senate bills that would amend the Hawaiian label, lawmakers have introduced complementary bills that outline enforcement and require a fine of $10,000 for each violation of the proposed law.
All because state law currently allows "Kona" or any other Hawaiian name to be used by naming, packaging and sellers with only 10% Hawaiian coffee in the coffee mixture. In fact, as early as 2015, some Kona coffee growers and legislation have been pushing for stricter labelling requirements as they seek to protect Kona's name and improve the global reputation of Hawaiian coffee.
It is said that as early as 1991, lawmakers and the KCFA of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association, as well as a team of local farmers' representatives, had been fighting to change the law. In a proposed bill, mixed coffee labeled Kona is required to contain at least 74% of coffee grown in the Kona region, and businesses that meet the 10% threshold are required to disclose the origin of coffee grown in non-Kona on the packaging. But in the end, neither of the bills was signed into law.
For KCFA, which represents about 300 producer members, the result is closely related to the integrity of the Kona name and the views of consumers in Hawaii and elsewhere. The organization believes that such a practice is deceptive, which is disadvantageous and unfair to the Hawaiian coffee industry, and even affects tourism.
But as the controversy escalated, coffee growers in Kona, Hawaii, filed a civil lawsuit against eight American bakery companies and some of the largest grocery stores and online retailers in the United States. The class action sought relief for about 6 to 1000 Kona coffee farmers, disputing coffee packaging labels with the name "Kona". Litigation targets include Wal-Mart, Amazon, Kaixiang and other well-known varieties. The lawsuit was successful and more than 20 grocery stores and baking companies were fined more than $33 million. This incident lays a deeper foundation for this new legislation.
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