A bumper crop and record high prices pushed Hawaii coffee sales to an all-time high of $37.3 million during the 2005-06 season. That s up 88% from the prior season and also tops a prior record of $28.2 million in farm-level sales set during the 1997-98 season, according to a report released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Growers benefited from above normal rains in late 2004 through 2005 in key areas such as Kainaliu, which is located in the middle of the North and South Kona districts. That helped lead to a 46% increase in production to 8.2 million pounds of Kona Coffee. Farm prices reached a record high average of $4.55 a pound. That was up 28% from an average price of $3.55 a pound in the prior season.
For growers, record prices coupled with a bumper crop is the best of both worlds, said Jim Wayman, president of both the Hawaii Coffee Co. and the Hawaii Coffee Association. Coffee is Hawaii’s seventh-largest crop in terms of farm sales. Coffee has been grown in Hawai’i for nearly two centuries, with the Kona variety commanding the highest prices due to the quality of the soil and the ample rainfall. Big Island growers generated $31 million in sales, or 83% of state coffee sales. The combined farm value of Maui, Honolulu and Kaua’I counties was $6.3 million. This season Big Island millers expect production to dip about 5% from last season. This could be partially offset by a smaller increase from the combined counties of Maui, Honolulu and Kaua’i, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.