Saturday | December 16, 2017
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Hip to food label

Most Hawaii County Council members are hip to the idea of a special label for local produce and products, but they’re not sure HIPP — Hawaii Island Produce and Products — is the way to go. And they definitely don’t like HIPP-O as a brand name for organic produce.

The council Governmental Relations and Economic Development Committee on Tuesday postponed advancing a resolution by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille until details such as how to enforce local standards could be worked out. Council members also want to work with farmers, producers and the community on what would be the best acronym and slogan to use.

“HIPP is cool,” said Puna Councilman Zendo Kern. “(But) when you think about distinguishing a Big Island brand as HIPP-O? I think we can do better. … Not that I have anything against hippos.”

Wille said she put in the HIPP and HIPP-O brands at the request of community members following earlier thoughts about having her Resolution 208 just broach the idea of a brand and have the community make suggestions. Wille said Hawaii Island should have a marketing program similar to the marketing slogans “MADE IN MAUI, a Seal of Local Pride” and “KAUAI GROWN, Hawaii’s Garden Island” used on those islands.

No one from the public testified for or against her suggested names Tuesday.

Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan wants to poll the community and those most affected by the brand names.

“Maybe the public could decide a different name that’s better than HIPP and HIPP-O,” Ilagan said.

Some council members liked BIG, for Big Island Grown, but others said the island is trying to get away from the “Big” moniker in favor of “Hawaii Island.” Native Hawaiians, tourism officials and others have been trying to avoid the old “Big Island” brand name.

“I do like the idea of having a brand for the island,” said North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff. “I’d like to see it reflect a little more Hawaiian-ness.”

Wille said there are many regional brands, such as Kona coffee, but they are scattered and don’t apply to all products on the entire island.

There is also the state brand, “Buy Local, It Matters” campaign that replaced the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” campaign. The state’s “Island Fresh” logo is often spotted on produce and products on area grocery shelves, and KTA Super Stores has its own “Mountain Apple” designation for local produce

That seemed enough for Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi, who asked whether more brands and acronyms are needed.

“There’s all these labels out there already,” Onishi said. “And now we’re going to put on another one.”

Council members agreed there’s no hurry to get a new brand right away, and all agreed it’s best to take the time to get it right. They voted unanimously, with South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford absent, to postpone the resolution until more work could be done.

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