Below is an overview of the conversations I had with each case:
Local Coffee Shop:
I emailed the manager with questions on the where the local coffee shop's products come from and how they got there. The manager responded and expanded on the local coffee shop's products and transportation. The coffees represent 23% or sales at the local coffee shop and come from a variety of sources: some come from individual farms on the island of Hawaii, some coffee comes from California and Washington. The farms in Hawaii deliver their product by car. A coffee mill in Hilo that is located 69 miles from the local coffee shop imports coffee from various parts of the world. The manager was unsure of what transportation is used but assumed the coffee traveled by ship and is delivered to the local coffee shop by a local delivery service in a small van. The coffee from Calif. & Washington is shipped by USPS. The local coffee shop uses local produce, delivered by car or purchased at local groceries. Other products come from Costco and Suisan. These products are delivered by truck. The milk used at the local coffee shop is local purchased from a local grocery story. The local coffee shop purchases ice cream locally from a ice cream company (the same company as the local burger joint) delivered by truck. Ice cream represents 5% of sales.The local coffee shop also supplies baked goods from local bakers delivered by car, which represent 9% of sales. The local coffee shop purchases from a large quantity supermarket and a because it allow them to stay in business by their quantity buying creating lower costs for the local coffee shop. The manager said, "Decisions about purchases are based first on what we can get locally at a reasonable cost, and we do what we can." The local coffee shop is takes economics into consideration because food/coffee service businesses have a low profit margin especially in Hawaii. The cafe tries to keep a price point people can afford but Hawaii has a high cost of living making this task harder here than in most places.
Chain Coffee Shop:
On January 29th, I met with the local manager of the chain coffee shop to ask her questions pertaining to where their products are sourced and why the choose their methods. Due to confidentiality I am unable to divulge her name and will refer to the establishment as chain coffee shop.
My biggest question, one that I mysteriously couldn’t find any information about on either their website or the general Internet was, where do there products come from? According to the manager, the baked goods are sourced 50/50 locally and imported. The local goods come from a baking company located on the island of Oahu, which is a grand total of 212.99 miles away from the island of Hawaii. The imported baked goods come from bakeries located somewhere in the 49 states, specifics were not given to me. The local chain coffee shop uses local milk sourced from a dairy located again in Oahu. Keep in mind this dairy is a multinational corporation not a local business. The bottled water for sale in the chain coffee shop is local bottle water but I am unsure as to where the water is packaged. The other drink components such as syrup and lemonade are sourced from mainland distribution. The coffee, including 100% Kona coffee is not entirely locally sourced. The coffee is grown in Kona and then sent to Carson City, Nevada or Washington State to be processed. Chain coffee shop, like many corporate companies aim to be consistent. Every chain coffee shop location you go to in the mainland will look the same and taste the same. Thus the processing operations must be the same as well. Once processed and packaged in Carson City or Washington State the coffee is sent back to Hawaii. Traveling by plane directly from Kona, Hawaii to Carson City, Nevada round trip is 5,087 miles. This is an approximation and by boat, the current method of transportation for the processed coffee is farther than the estimation above.
My next question was how is the coffee, components, and baked goods transported to different chain coffee shop locations? Any products in the chain coffee shops in the island of Hawaii travel by boat. If there is an emergency the products are sent via plane but otherwise that option is too costly. I asked the manager if they had ever considered a different method of transportation and she responded no. Products in the 49 states are transported via boat or truck. She told to keep in mind that everything in Hawaii, including the prices of products at chain coffee shop are higher due to how far goods have to travel. I asked her in her opinion, the customers at chain coffee shop are environmentally conscious. She responded, “Oh yes and so are we.” She proceeded to inform me on their recycling, use of LED lights, and water conservation. In the words of the chain coffee shop’s Energy and Resource Management team, “Reducing the environment impact of our business operation will help to safe guard to availability of high quality beans to meet our exacting standards and to help preserve the planet for future generations”. Amongst all the hype about environmental conservation both from the manager and from their website, neither mention of the impact of where their products come from and how they are made with an exception of their cups and cup holders. I found it interesting that you can enter the chain coffee shop and ask for a pound of coffee grounds for fertilizer free of charge. During our meeting, a man walked in and did just that.
The manager wanted me to keep in mind during this case study that the chain coffee shop has changed and will continue to change over time. In the past, the chain coffee shop was entirely privately owned and used slightly more local products than the current locations do today. The chain coffee shop also owns different branches to experiment will different types of business including better quality products and different methods of production, such as on site baking rather than prepackaged goods. She stated, “Changes (are) coming now down the pipeline” and that in the next ten years there may be drastic differences between the chain coffee shop then and the current one now.
Local Burger Joint:
I talked to the owner of the local burger joint who gave me further insight to his his product sources and transportation. 75% of the local burger joint's food products are sourced locally and 25% come from the continental U.S via barge. The 25% includes soft drinks, potatoes, recyclable paper goods, cleaning chemicals, condiments, etc. The local burger joint averages 500 pounds of potatoes a week. He is unable to source local potatoes because he has not found a supplier who can meet his needs. All the local products are delivered via cars or trucks. I asked him if he thinks his customers are environmentally conscious to which he responded, "I'd like to think that 50% of our customer base is attracted to our establishment because of sound environmental practices. Burgers cut through a wide age group, our customer base is 5 years of age to 85. I find the most environmentally savvy are individuals under the age of 40, which comprises about 50% of our clientele."
Chain Burger Joint:
Today I called the chain burger joint and asked to speak with the manager. I then spoke with the store owner who agreed to help with this study to the best of his ability. I asked where the products come from to which he responded, 90% of the products are from the mainland. All nonlocal products shipped to the Waimea location are shipped from California to Honolulu, Oahu to Kawaihae or Hilo, Hawaii. The products such as Bama pies and Tyson chicken are shipped from their original destination to California City of Industry. Bama pies distributes to over 20 countries and make over 1,400 pies a minute. Tyson has 36 chicken processing sites. The closest to California is Seguin, Texas which I would assume is where the chicken at California City of Industry is sourced from. 10% of their products are sourced locally from Oahu. This includes, lettuce, tomatos, and buns. Fresh Start Bakery makes all buns for the Waimea location. Hawaii Poi Compan (HPC) supply both the tomato and lettuce. All products are shipped via boat to Kawaihae or Hilo and then transported to the Waimea branch of the chain burger joint by truck. The trucking serviced used in both California and Hawaii for the chan burger joint is either Young Brothers or Matson. I asked the owner why these sources are chosen to which he told me, "[chain burger joint] has three priorities, food safety/quality control, consistency, and effective cost control." He went on to tell me that the chain burger joint philosophy is to by locally when it is food safe, high quantity, and economically viable. I then asked why these particular transportation methods are used to. He told me those are for economic reasons. He said he would email me later with the suppliers contact information.