By 2030, lowered costs and prices of local food, while ensuring subsequent food wasted is reduced overall and maximum consumption benefits received.
photo credit: go.hawaii.com
Consumption of locally grown food plays a key role in increasing local food production in Hawai‘i, since demand for local food drives increased production. The greatest barriers to increasing local food consumption in Hawai‘i include the often higher price for local food, consistent availability in desired quantities, reliable data that tracks imported and local food, and lack of trust that food marketed is genuinely locally produced. According to a study conducted by Ulupono Initiative surveying nearly 1,200 shoppers, Hawai‘i residents want more locally grown products and are willing to pay more for it.
In an effort to encourage meaningful metrics to track the State goal of doubling local food production by 2020, the 2013 study "Hawai‘i’s food consumption and supply sources: benchmark estimates and measurement issues" by Matthew Loke and PingSun Leung suggests the following metrics to measure and track Hawaiʻi's food self-sufficiency. "Analysis indicates that Hawai‘i has an overall food self-sufficiency ratio (SSR) of 15.7% and an overall food import dependency ratio (IDR) of 102.5%. While it appears counterintuitive that the IDR exceeds 100%, this figure actually indicates the existence of food imports into Hawai‘i that are then turned around and re-exported to other markets. With application of the more accurate localization ratio (LR), we estimate that only 11.6% of available food for consumption in Hawai‘i was actually sourced from local production in 2010. Likewise, the modified import dependency ratio (MIDR) indicates that an estimated 88.4% of available food in Hawai‘i was sourced from imports." (Loke and Leung, 2013) Having these metrics on an annual basis would greatly help provide an more accurate picture for food sourcing and self-sufficiency in Hawaiʻi.
There is a clear distinction between food and agricultural products. Examples of food products include starches, produce, dairy products, meats, and fish, while agricultural products encompass a larger category including foods, fuels, fibers, and raw materials. The figure below shows the “farm-gate” value, or commodity sales leaving the farm of agricultural products sold to consumers to show overall trends in local agricultural production. This dataset tracks the larger category of agricultural products including seed crops like cabbage, lettuce, and other produce, which make up an estimated 25% of these total sales. This dataset has dropped in recent years due to a decrease in commodity prices nationwide, which reflects efficiencies in the transportation and agricultural sector with increased technology. The subsequent figure shows the value of crops and animal products for home consumption.
Figure 1: Total value of agricultural products sold. Crop value includes sugar, pineapple, forage crops, and forest products. Complete data not available for aquaculture in 2013, and therefore is omitted from this dataset. (Source: DBEDT Data Book 2016, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) survey. Note that as of DBEDT Data Book 2018, crop value data is unavailable for 2017.)
Figure 2: the economic benefit of local agricultural products in Hawaii for the home by featuring the value of crops and animal products for home consumption. *Crops include fruits and nuts, vegetables and melons, "all other crops" but limited to home consumption. **Animal products include dairy products (milk), meat animals, miscellaneous livestock, poultry and eggs and is limited to home consumption. (Source: USDA Economic Research Service (ERS))
Figures 3 & 4: Food insecurity (lack of access, at times, to enough or nutritionally sufficient food) rates for the overall population and among children. Nearly 1 in 6 children in Hawaiʻi is food insecure. Scroll over each bar on the left to see the average meal cost in each county. The chart on the right shows how many among the food insecure are eligible for federal assistance in the form of SNAP and other programs. (Source: Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap, 2019.)
Food secure households had access at all times to sufficient and nutritious food. In 2018, nearly 90% of U.S. households were food secure. Food insecure households are unable or acquiring (or uncertain) sufficient food at some point during the year. Within this classification, households with very low food security have their normal eating patterns disrupted throughout the year and self-report inadequate consumption.
There are many benefits of consuming local food, including fewer carbon emissions released from transportation, higher nutritional value, and increased sense of local community. Buying local also shows appreciation and respect for the hard work of local farmers. Health data indicates that a diet filled with fresh, local food is also much healthier than consuming processed, convenience foods. Through buying more local food, Hawai‘i residents will not only benefit their diets, but will also support local farmers, businesses, and the economy.
Figure 5: The per capita protein consumption statewide (Source: National Chicken Council). The National Chicken Council (NCC) is the national, non-profit trade association whose primary purpose is to serve as the advocate and voice for the U.S. broiler chicken industry in Washington, D.C.
Figures 6 & 7: The USDA recommends eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. These graphs show the percentage of adults and teens who report eating at least five servings when surveyed. Source: State Department of Health Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System & State Department of Health/Department of Education Hawaii Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
Aside from housing and transportation, food is the most costly category in household, with many families relying on outside benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (DBEDT Databook). This subsidy applies to local farmer’s markets and can help make local food more affordable for families.
Figure 8: SNAP Benefits spent at local farmer’s markets. Source: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP)
Despite the high price of food, there is a considerable amount of food waste in Hawai‘i. According to a 2013 study by University of Hawai'i, Hawai‘i wasted an estimated 261,382 tons of food in 2010, which is about 26% of the available food supply. This equates to approximately 360 pounds of food waste per person annually. The largest portion of Hawai‘i’s food waste is from consumers, with approximately 16% of all edible food in Hawai‘i wasted at the consumption level. Reducing food waste through more sustainable actions such as composting has the potential to reduce Hawai‘i’s dependence on imported food.
What you can Do
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tips for reducing food waste.
Learn More and Make a Difference
- To learn about Hawai‘i’s food consumption and supply sources, check out this report published in 2013 detailing benchmark estimates and measurement issues.
- Fishcoin--An emerging blockchain-based traceability innovation that allows independent industry stakeholders to harness the power of blockchain using a shared protocol so that data can be trusted, transparent, and secure . To learn more, watch this short video that explains the intention behind data transparency in the fishing industry.
- To learn more about the various commodities sold in proportions that represent their share of annual sales in the U.S. market, see United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) Food Dollar Series publication.
- To learn more about equity and access to local food, read “Hawaii Food System: Food For All” Report.
- Learn about local food demand in Hawaii through the “Local Food Market Demand Study"
- Learn about local food sales trends in Hawaii through the Ulupono study “Local Foods Sales Reach $84.4 Million in Hawaii"
Visit restaurants that support local farms:
- Slow Food Hawai'i is a member-supported education non-profit organization run by volunteers and leadership teams to advocate for local food culture and sustainable food production, while bringing people together
- Slow Food Oahu is an organization committed to creating robust, active movement that protects taste, culture and the environment as universal social values
- Check out the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture Island Fresh Hawaii Seasonality Chart
- View Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture’s Farmer's market listings