HONOLULU — A Hawaii farmer has announced plans to expand beef production statewide after forming a new partnership, officials said.
Kauai rancher Bobby Farias established Hawaii Meats with an Idaho ranch operator as part of a separation from Kunoa Cattle Company, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.
Farias acquired more than 2,500 animals from the Kauai cattle operation and the only slaughterhouse on Oahu as part of the agreement, he said. He hopes to invest more in labor to stop local farmers from shipping calves to the U.S. mainland for harvesting.
Farias co-founded Kunoa with environmental investment consultant Jack Beuttell and other partners, but the Kunoa team was not ready to invest in costly expansion, he said. Even after the company bought the slaughterhouse in 2016.
With the slaughterhouse, up to 10 cattle a month from its own ranch and other ranchers were being harvested, but recent cattle numbers were around 120 animals a week, Farias said.
“This is a great development for the livestock community,” said Scott Enright, former chairman of the state Board of Agriculture. Limitations with the slaughterhouse are among reasons many local ranchers can’t process cattle for the local market.
Kunoa is expected to continue under new management and become a customer of Hawaii Meats, officials said. The cattle company, which works with many other Hawaii ranchers for its beef supply, will continue to exist largely as a brand and processor of locally raised beef.
“Kunoa’s commitment to delivering 100% Hawaii-grown meat products to the Hawaii market remains the same,” Beuttell said.
Hawaii Meats also plans to establish its own brand of beef sold in stores and other businesses such as restaurants beginning next year, Farias said. The new company should complement Kunoa and other locally branded beef.
“We’re all in this together,” Farias said.