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HIPP … HIPP … HIPP-O Wille’s proposed ag labels would add to the herd

January 2, 2014 - 9:49pm

There could soon be a bumper crop of logos identifying locally grown produce, if a resolution proposed by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille takes root at Tuesday’s Governmental Relations and Economic Development Committee meeting.

Wille is proposing HIPP (Hawaii Island Produce and Products) and HIPP-O (Hawaii Island Produce and Products - Organically grown) logos to identify Big Island products. She says it’s similar to the marketing slogans “MADE IN MAUI, a Seal of Local Pride” and ” KAUAI GROWN, Hawaii’s Garden Island” used on those islands.

“Our island is one that really doesn’t have an islandwide brand,” Wille said Thursday. “Having a special identity, a sense of place, is important.”

Wille notes there are many regional brands, such as Kona coffee, but they are scattered and don’t apply to all products on the whole island.

There is also the state brand, “Buy Local, It Matters” campaign that replaced the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” campaign. And, the state’s “Island Fresh” logo is often spotted on produce and products on area grocery shelves.

KTA Super Stores, the Big Island’s local grocery, also has its own “Mountain Apple” logo, which sometimes rides alongside the state’s “Island Fresh” logo on the packaging.

Barry Taniguchi, KTA president and CEO, thinks there are enough logos already.

“It gets confusing,” he said. “There are so many of these different programs out there.”

Wille said the statewide logo requires only 50 percent of the product be produced here, a standard she thinks is too low. Her Resolution 208 asks the county Department of Research and Development to adopt an “all or virtually all” standard for the islandwide logo.

The wording of the resolution states that the brand logo “shall” be HIPP and HIPP-O, despite the county charter that limits the council’s power to mandate policy through resolutions. Wille said it’s not her intention to mandate as much as to offer producers the option to use the logos to identify their products.

She’s not wedded to HIPP and HIPP-O either, she said. Her original intention was to create a resolution asking if the county should have an islandwide logo, but community members suggested the names.

“Putting it out there gives people time to think about it. It’s something fun, something positive,” Wille said. “If you submit an idea, people bounce their own ideas back.”