State may loosen restrictions for ‘Made in Hawaiʻi’

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By Jenn Boneza, April 14, 2022, KHON2.com

HONOLULU — The Made in Hawaiʻi brand is synonymous with many local products. But after sales dipped during the pandemic, the state is looking at ways to revitalize the Made in Hawaiʻi brand.

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) administrator Dennis Ling said the brand is associated with a healthy, laid-back, unique, island lifestyle. It also encompasses the Hawaiian culture.

And many customers look for it.

“That’s why I come here,” said Aiea resident Laurence Onaka. He and his wife stopped by the Hawaiian Chip Company retail store to pick up something before traveling to the mainland.

“It’s important to me if I’m going to take it out of state. I think a lot of people in the mainland prefer Made in Hawaiʻi versus what they get all around the U.S.,” said Onaka.

Jimmy Chan, the owner of Hawaiian Chip Company, said having “Made in Hawaiʻi” on labels does add value.

“We’ve been seeing more travelers looking for authentic experiences. So in some ways they really do want to find products that they can’t find anywhere else in the world,” said Chan.

Ling said it’s especially valuable for exported products, but it isn’t easy to get the brand.

To qualify, a product must be 51% Made in Hawaiʻi, including labor and sourced materials.

Chan said manufacturing locally is very expensive and it’s even harder for other types of businesses, like apparel and clothing companies.

Ling said the state plans to conduct a study gauging the value of the brand and whether they should loosen the restrictions.

“We are looking at adding in other components that go into the mix of making the product,” Ling explained.

Things like artwork and logos by Hawaiʻi artists could be taken into consideration.

According to Ling, the study would also look into enforcement, to prevent its misuse.

“The made in Hawaiʻi brand is a great brand. And it’s something that you know, everyone who produces their products in Hawaiʻi may want to consider using,” Ling explained.

Ling said DBEDT is accepting requests for proposals (RFP) to conduct the study until May 11th.

The study is expected to take at least a year to finish.

According to Ling, DBEDT will be working closely with the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority to ensure the Made in Hawaiʻi brand and HTA’s campaign share the same message.

Click here to get information about the RFP.

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