The Pineapple in Hawaii
Going to Aloha State on vacation and interested in learning about the history of pineapple in Hawaii? Many people know Hawaii for its exotic fruits. But the pineapple may have the most storied history of all exotic fruits all of Hawaii.
The History of Pineapple in Hawaii
It’s not clearly known when pineapples (or halakahiki in Hawaiian) first came to Hawaii. But most historians credit Captain John Kidwell for starting Hawaii’s pineapple industry. However, James Drummond Dole is the person largely associated with expanding the industry in Hawaii. In the early 1900s, Dole purchased land on Oahu. He then established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company. An then, he began growing the fruit on a large scale basis and soon became known as Hawaii’s “Pineapple King.” He later bought the entire island of Lanai and made it into the largest pineapple plantation in the world.
Worldwide demand for pineapples increased and more companies began to grow this profitable crop. Due to growing demand for laborers, the plantations began to import foreign workers from foreign counties. These included countries such as China, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Portugal and Puerto Rico.
Many of Hawaii’s residents today can trace their lineage to such workers. These people came to Hawaii to work on the pineapple, sugar or coffee plantations. They did this as a way to better lives for themselves and their families.
Its Rise and Decline in Hawaii
By the 1950s, there were eight pineapple companies in Hawaii. This make the islands the world’s largest producer of pineapples. Today, due to rising labor costs and more competitive producers elsewhere in the world, such as in Thailand, Philippines and Brazil, Hawaii produces only two percent of the world’s pineapples. But Dole Company on Oahu and Maui Gold Pineapple Company still grows pineapples for the fresh consumption market. There are also a number of family farms that grow pineapples on a small scale on the island of Maui. The pineapple industry does not have the economic clout that it once had in the past. But it still has left a lasting legacy on Hawaii’s history and culture.