Categorized | Agriculture

Tropical fruit growers form mango chapter, give awards


A grocery store and four chefs were lauded for their promotion and creative use of local fruit at the 19th Annual Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Conference. The gathering, “A Taste of Hawaii,” was Sept. 18-20 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

Choice Mart supermarket at Kealakekua Ranch Center in Captain Cook received an award for showcasing seasonal, locally grown citrus as the first display in the store. 

According to Ken Love, executive director of the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association (HTFG), numerous South Kona farmers benefited from the grocer’s positioning of the display. 

“Choice Market is looking forward to repeating the display again this year,” Love said.

Chefs cited for their “continuing and creative use of local fruit,” included George Gomes Jr. of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Peter Merriman of Merriman’s restaurant, Matt Zubrod of Monette’s at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Charles Charbenneau of Hilton Waikoloa Village.

This was the second year HTFG presented the fruit-friendly awards.

Also during the conference, the HTFG founded a new mango chapter under the guidance of Mark Suiso, of Makaha Mangoes. 

Love said HTFG is dedicated to working with local growers to further develop the state’s mango industry and decrease the reliance on imports.

“We’re working on finishing a Hawaii mango poster for the benefit of the grower and consumer,” Suiso said. 

The chapter will participate in mango festivals in Kona and Oahu, sponsoring cooking contests and sharing info on mango cultivation techniques, he said. 

“We plan to foster the growth of mango varieties for both the commercial and backyard growers,” Suiso said.

The annual HTFG conference opened at ‘Mealani A Taste of the Hawaiian Range’ and continued for two days with educational sessions, panel discussions and interactive, on-site farm tours. 

It was sponsored by the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development, CTAHR, USDA, Big Island Resource Conservation and Development Council and the American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association.

Incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii, HTFG is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion.

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