Coffee association inks deal to verify Hawaii origins

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The Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) has enlisted product traceability company Oritain to build a statewide “Origin Fingerprint” database to verify the origins of Hawaii-grown coffee.

“This partnership will allow us to sample green and roasted coffee to prove its origin,” explains Chris Manfredi, HCA executive director. “The effort will build Hawaii coffee traceability and integrity.”

Manfredi says the intent is to thwart counterfeiting and build marketability.

“Coffee counterfeiting is the bane of Hawaii-grown coffee — it represents unfair competition to Hawaii’s growers,” he said. “It undermines our pricing and the generations of growers who have contributed to the exceptional quality associated with Hawaii’s brands.”

“It’s important to the industry and consumers to know where coffee is grown and in the case of counterfeiting, where it is not grown,” he added.

Oritain uses scientific testing to measure a product’s stable isotopes and trace elements and verify its origin. The methodology originated in the criminal forensic field and has since been peer-reviewed in scientific journals over the last two decades.

A product’s origin can be identified by measuring the chemical compositions of plants and animals that vary naturally in the environment. As something is grown, reared or made, it absorbs a unique ratio of elements and isotopes depending on the local temperature, altitude, precipitation, soil conditions, fertilizer and farm practices.

Oritain runs this data through its statistical models to produce an “Origin Fingerprint” that it then uses to test subsequent samples as they move through the supply chain. Any samples that are inconsistent with the “Origin Fingerprint” have likely been adulterated.

The technology and the specifics of how it will apply and be implemented for Hawaii coffee will be detailed by Oritain at a 12:45 p.m. presentation Saturday, May 21 during the 2022 HCA conference at the Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa in Keauhou-Kona. Oritain will also have an informative display at the conference’s trade show and is an event sponsor.

“Our Hawaii coffee industry is excited about this project and its possibilities for the future,” adds Manfredi. “It will build product trust and boost marketability.”

“Hawaii-grown coffee has earned a world-renowned reputation for its specialty status, farming practices and flavor profile — it is coffee that is unrivalled from anywhere else in the world,” said Oritain CEO Grant Cochrane. “However, with such a strong reputation, brings a temptation to cheat by substituting coffee from other origins and labelling it as Hawaiian. This partnership marks a significant step in deterring this type of behavior by protecting the integrity and reputation of an important specialty crop.”

The May 19-21 HCA conference offers educational opportunities, interactive workshops on cupping, roasting and field-grafting, plus talks on soil health, on-farm technology and updates on the latest industry research and legislative issues. The winners of the HCA’s 13th annual statewide cupping competition will also be announced.

Major sponsors of the HCA Conference include State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Oritain, American AgCredit, FedEx, Honolulu Coffee Company, Kauai Coffee Company, Kona Hills, Monarch Coffee, Satake, Savor Brands, Sustainable Agro Solutions, TricorBraun Flex and UCC Hawaii.

Register for the conference here: https://hawaiicoffeeassoc.org/page-1771716

Sponsorship and trade show exhibitor opportunities are available and silent auction donations are welcome.

The Hawaii Coffee Association’s mission is to represent all sectors of the Hawaii coffee industry, including growers, millers, wholesalers, roasters and retailers. The HCA’s primary objective is to increase awareness and consumption of Hawaii-grown coffees. A major component of HCA’s work is the continuing education of members and consumers. Learn more about the HCA at http://www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org/.

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