Kauai Pineapple Co. in Lawai closes

The Kauai Pineapple Co. of Lawai, Kauai, also known as Kauai Pine, was formed in 1906 as Kauai Fruit &Land Company with the backing of McBryde Sugar Co.

In 1930, Kauai Fruit &Land Company became Kauai Pineapple Co. and in 1960, it merged with Alexander &Baldwin.

Two years later, in March 1962, C. C. Cadagan, president of Alexander &Baldwin, announced that Kauai Pine would close by 1965, since its operation was a losing proposition due to poor land, declining income and rising costs.

Its shutdown would mean the loss of an annual payroll of $1.3 million for 181 regular, 105 intermittent and 814 seasonal employees, and the loss of tax revenues of some $170,000 a year to State, County and Federal governments.

Residents of Lawai, Kalaheo and outlying areas were shocked by the company’s liquidation announcement, since Kauai Pine had been their principal source of income.

Henry Wada, a Kauai Pine employee for 35 years and the proprietor of H. Wada Store, said of the news, “It came so suddenly!” and foresaw a bleak outlook for Lawai, where the cannery was located, because of the shortage of job opportunities on Kauai.

Chiyuki Matsuwaki of Lawai reacted by saying, “I was really shocked to hear the bad news. We never realized anything this drastic would happen.”

Charles Taba, president of the Kalaheo Community Association, commented, “We are in a daze,” and Wallace Otsuka, Kauai Chamber of Commerce president, noted that the closing of Kauai Pine would be a “terrific blow” to Kauai.

Archie Ikehara, an independent pine grower and journeyman mechanic for the cannery remarked, “I still can’t believe it. I don’t know what I am going to do.”

And, Michiyuki Fujimoto, another independent pineapple grower said, “I guess I will have to get an outside job and farm part time.”

Kauai Pine stopped planting in 1962, and when its final crop was packed in 1964, its pineapple products, sold under house labels “King of Hawaii” and “Vita Gold” became a thing of the past.
Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at hssgms@gmail.com

  1. Lani Nish May 26, 2019 7:04 am Reply

    Thank you for this look into the past….I worked at Kauai Pine in the Summer months in 1956 and 1957. It was a great summer job for school kids to earn some extra cash! It was a fun time.

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