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Usda reports drop in sales in 2017-18 for the Hawaiian coffee sector

The Hawaiian coffee sector had a disappointing last season with a drop in sales as reduced production overshadowed higher prices, according to a recent federal report. The value of coffee sold by farmers statewide sank to a 4-year low of $43.8 million for the 2017-18 season, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

That was down 10 percent from $48.9 million in the previous season and down 30 percent from $62.6 million in the 2014-15 season.

Kathy King, the agency’s Pacific region director, was surprised by the decline last season and said coffee farmers reported that a labor shortage was largely to blame.

The report also mentioned that the coffee berry borer pest remains an industry concern but that controlling measures are “showing signs of progress.”

The coffee berry borer was found on Hawaii island in 2010 and later made its way to Oahu and Maui.

The report said there actually were new farms that increased coverage of fruit-bearing coffee trees to 7,200 acres last season from 7,000 acres in the prior season.

However, average yield decreased and resulted in 24.6 million pounds of coffee sold last season compared with 28.6 million pounds in the prior season.