Kauai News

Kona legislators introduce stricter coffee labeling laws

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Kona lawmakers introduced bills dedicated to imposing more stringent labeling regulations on Kona coffee.

This move comes in response to deceptive labeling concerns and a recent report from the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture, which offered clear economic justification for the Legislature to increase the minimum content required for a product to bear the Kona name on its packaging.

“Requiring coffee labeled as ‘Kona’ to actually be 100% Kona beans will protect the value of the Kona name and support farmers’ ability to get the best prices for their products,” said Rep. Nicole E. Lowen (D-7 Kailua-Kona, North Kona, South Kohala). “The report states that ‘unequivocally, it is expected that the proposed labeling changes will lead to a rise in the price of Kona coffee.’ Now it is time for the legislature to act accordingly and to do what is best for farmers.”

For over three decades, the debate over the required percentage of coffee originating from the geographic area to qualify as Hawaiian coffee has persisted, with existing regulations set at a minimum of 10%. In 2022, the Legislature passed Act 222, which requested that the HDOA conduct a study on the impact of coffee labeling laws on coffee farmers and to determine the economically ideal proportion of Kona beans in products marketed as Kona coffee.


On Jan. 18, 2024, the state department submitted the Final Report on the Economic Study on Changes in Coffee Labeling Law. The report highlights that increasing the minimum amount of Kona coffee from 10% to either 51% or 100% would be advantageous for local farmers, with a higher increase providing the most benefit.

Additionally, the report anticipates that proposed labeling changes could result in a price increase for Kona coffee while seeing minimal impact on quantities grown or sold.

“Despite claims that changing labeling laws would lead to sales decreases due to premium pricing, the findings of the report suggest otherwise. Our objective is to protect the integrity of all regional coffee brands in Hawaiʻi, like Kona and Kaʻū, and support our local farmers,” explained Rep. Kirstin Kahaloa (D-6 Hōnaunau, Nāpō‘opo‘o, Captain Cook, Kealakekua, Keauhou, Hōlualoa, Kailua-Kona).


Rep. Jeanné Kapela (D-5 Portions of Kea‘au and Kurtistown, Mountain View, Glenwood, Fern Forest, Volcano, Pāhala, Punalu‘u, Nā‘ālehu, Wai‘ōhinu, Hawaiian Ocean View, Ho‘okena) said it’s time to change the law that undercuts Hawaiʻi’s local farmers, and to finally do the right thing

“For too long, we have allowed products that are not Kona coffee to use the Kona coffee name and reputation for profit at the expense of farmers,” she said.

During the 2024 legislative session, Kona area legislators have introduced specific bills addressing Kona coffee labeling laws:


HB2298 /SB2481 – Relating to Consumer Protection
Establishes a timeline by which roasted coffee, instant coffee, and ready-to-drink coffee beverages that use a geographic origin in labeling or advertising are required to contain a certain percent coffee by weight from that geographic origin.

HB2613/SB2103 – Relating to Agriculture
Expands the criminal offense of false labeling of Hawaiʻi-grown coffee to include roasted coffee. Imposes a $10,000 fine for each separate offense of false-labeling of Hawaiʻi-grown roasted coffee. Makes an appropriation for 1.0 FTE enforcement position within the Department of Agriculture.

To stay updated with the progress of these measures, visit http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov.

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Kauai Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments