21 May 2009

The High Cost of Producing Local

Last week I experienced sticker shock at the new price of the Kapalua Farms eggs at Pukalani Superette. Not being one who is willing to let things always just pass on by, I e-mailed the farm.

I've been purchasing the KF PR eggs for nearly a month now, and I have
been enjoying them quite happily. I love the variation in the shell
color and size, and I love that they are laid right here on Maui by
pasture raised chickens. This is definitely a good thing for Maui and
for the world.

I've been purchasing the eggs at Pukalani Superette, and for weeks I
was buying them for $4.50 a dozen. Last week when I purchased these
eggs I had to pay $7.50 per dozen on sale (regularly $9.99). I saw
that Foodland carried the eggs for $9.99 a week or two before, and I
was glad to be getting such a great deal while supporting local

I was stretching my money a little to pay the $4.50 for the eggs, and
I would have paid $5.00, but paying $7.50 or $10 for eggs is
impossible to pay, especially in this economy.

In my quest to continue to purchase locally grown and produced food, I
hope that I can see the price come back down.

I do hope that there wasn't an issue with the farm to suddenly cause
the price increase. Lots of love to the chickens and your farm.

If the price increase was not caused by KF I do hope that I can find
another store that will carry these terrific eggs for a better price.

This morning I received a response. I am pleased with what they have to say, and I am glad to hear that the prices in the store should come down a bit, and that I can purchase eggs in larger quantities for a lower price direct from the farm as a consumer. The next time I can get over that far I will certainly stock up with a month's supply or more and do a good bit of baking and cooking so that I don't have to worry about buying eggs so often so I can bake bread or pies, etc. Don't worry, I always make my pizza crust with flaxseed, not eggs. I am not an egg freak, and I do know the cost of animal agriculture on the environment. But, if I am going to eat a lot of eggs I should eat pasture raised happy eggs. Going about procuring eggs in this way is a heck of a lot better for the world than factory farm eggs are.

Also, I do know that Kapalua Farms is a part of Maui Land and Pineapple, and that there is a lot of controversy surrounding the company. I didn't like the fact that they shut down a lot of their pineapple production and sold off a bunch of land for development. However, I see this is a way that they are trying to improve and do something good for the islands and the planet. I can only hope that they are inspired by their success with raising chickens sustainably and healthily and continue their exploration into this type of agribusiness.
Aloha Amanda,

Thanks for supporting local, the aloha, and for your question.
I apologize for the jump in price. Unfortunately this was an internal
error. When hens first reach laying age of ~6 months, they lay very
small eggs (almost half the size of a large egg). The price they were
sold at to the Superette was at this pullet size. Over time, the eggs
had increased in size, and our packers hadn't quite noticed, so large
eggs were being sold at the medium price - an unsustainable practice,
because our cost of production is high, and chickens eat the same amount
regardless of the egg size!

Now that this error has been corrected, we ran the model again to see if
we could lower the dozen large price, and still be cash flow positive
(which we only very modestly and recently are). We have lowered the
price, so soon (if not now) you should see the price come down a bit,
even with the in-store mark up.

The best deal in town is direct from the farm. If you ever find your
self in Napili, we sell fresh flats (2.5 dozen) for $12.50 at our office
in a honor box system between 6am - 4:30pm M-F. Because they are just
laid, they keep for a month, so most households can make a flat
disappear no problem!

I hope this helps to understand what we are up to. Unfortunately,
pasturing hens in movable cages, keeping low density, importing feed and
hand packing make this local operation many times more expensive to run
than a factory of sick birds on the mainland. The deep yolk color, firm
whites and fresh taste as least are solid indicators that if you can
find a way to swing it financially, you know you are getting a much
healthier food for you, and supporting environmental stewardship rather
than exploitation.

Mahalo for being engaged in your food choices, Tova

Tova Callender
Diversified Ag Supervisor
Kapalua Farms
Maui Land & Pineapple Co., Inc.
4900 Honoapi`ilani Hwy
Lahaina, HI 96761
Phone 808-665-5490
Cell 808-357-1424
Fax 808-665-3729

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