Storm drives produce supplies down, prices up for holidays

Aloun Farms

Mother Nature may be putting a damper on your Thanksgiving meal.

The recent storm that slammed into the state damaged local crops and could affect some produce through next year.

Workers at Aloun Farms harvested vegetables after waiting out the storm for days.

“For us, actually when it’s raining, it’s a natural holiday. But for us, the aftermath is going to cost us a lot more,” said Alec Sou of Aloun Farms.

The Kapolei farm was flooded, which means damaged crops.

“We are going to see higher costs overall and a lot of times even if you can pay the higher cost, the supply may not be as abundant,” Sou said.

Sou explains that the company is not able to fulfill the supply of vegetables commonly used for Thanksgiving, vegetables such as string beans, zucchini, and sweet corn.

The muddy conditions make it nearly impossible for farmers to plant anything, which could affect crops well into the spring season.

Asian vegetables that should be planted now, such as choi sum, daikon and mizuna, will be limited during the holiday season.
And other vegetables, including sweet onion, will be in shorter supply in the spring.

The weather has put a damper on sales, down about 15 percent at Aloun Farms and at Nalo Farms, located on another part of the island.

“Whenever you get hit by storms like this, you lose product, you lose income and you still gotta pay workers,” said Dean Okimoto of Nalo Farms.

Okimoto plans to skip the farmers markets he’s usually at, because there’s not enough vegetables.

“What have you had to do to survive the past three or four months?” KHON2 asked.

“Actually I refinanced the farm, which has helped greatly,” Okimoto said.

“If you didn’t refinance, what could have happened?” KHON2 asked.

“Oh, we’re done. We’re done,” Okimoto said.

Okimoto says he will increase prices by at least five percent. The rain damaged greens and herbs, including rosemary.

Even the crops he is able to harvest have been affected.

“It’s not going to last as long, because it’s weak,” he said.

Parts of the mainland are also dealing with weather issues. For example, California is dealing with a drought, which is affecting produce that’s usually imported.

Farmers say that’s why it’s hard to predict if and when prices will drop back down.

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