Big Isle Businesses Earn Manufacturing Awards

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Two Big Island firms were recognized Saturday as the “best of the best” in Hawaii’s food manufacturing industry.

Big Island Abalone of Kailua-Kona won Product of the Year, and Big Island Bees of Kealakekua was named the INNOVATE Hawai’i Manufacturer of the Year at the first-ever Taste Awards sponsored by The Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association.

In addition, Central Pacific Bank was presented the Innovative Marketing Award for its television commercial promoting Kona Coffee.

The award presentations were held at the Pomaika`i Ballrooms at Dole Cannery, Oahu.

Co-sponsored by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the awards honored individuals, companies and products in Hawaii that demonstrate exceptional performance, innovation and contribution to the manufacturing industry and to the community.


Big Island Bees started in 1971 in Kelekakua where the fourth generation of the bee-keeping Puett family currently works in the business with around 3,800 hives buzzing with some 190 million bees, said the Web site. The company won in the “small business” category (fewer than 100 employees).

Big Island Abalone Corporation produces Kona Coast Abalone, a premium stock of Ezo (Japanese Northern) abalone, which is praised by chefs and served at top-end restaurants in Tokyo, Waikiki, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, said the company’s Web site.

Awards were presented in nine categories. From a total of 121 nominations submitted, 10 people and/or organizations received the prestigious awards. Other winners were:

– The Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Gov. Abercrombie himself, awarded to Neal Arakaki of Menehune Mac.


– The INNOVATE Hawai’i Manufacturer of the Year “Large-Company” (more than 100 employees) award given to So Ono Food Products.

– Recognized as the Start-up Manufacturer of the Year was Chic Naturals of Lahaina, Maui.

– Advocate of the Year was shared by two individuals: Wayne Inouye of INNOVATE Hawaii and Nina Tanabe of Pacific Food Technology.

– Dana Labels was honored as the industry’s Supplier of the Year.


– Pacific Gateway Center was awarded the Community Service Award.

Established in 1977, the Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association is currently the only statewide food manufacturing association in the United States and works to increase the understanding and appreciation of the unique flavors, quality and care that go into the production of Hawaii’s fine foods and beverages, said an HFMA statement.

The local food manufacturing industry generates $900 million in annual revenue and is the largest manufacturing sector in the state, according to the Hawai’i State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

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