Five former Maui Land & Pine (MLP) employees, headed up by Ulupalakua Ranch’s Pardee Erdman, formed a new company called Haliimaile Pineapple Co, and bought the soon-to-be defunct fields owned by MLP located in central Upcountry Maui. Darren Strand is HPC’s new president and CEO.
The new company has begun to harvest fields of “Maui Gold” brand fruit, a low acid variety, around Haiku that were ripening, but going neglected. They are also replanting the fields located behind Haliimaile General Store that were targets for land sale and redevelopment into a new subdivision. According to the blog site Hawaii Agriculture the leadership of the new company “brings over 150 years of combined expertise in growing and packing premium pineapple on Maui.”
Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle issued a statement on the new company’s plans December 31, 2009. She says, “I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year than with preservation of 65 agricultural jobs and the prospect of creating more jobs for our residents in the long-term.” Jobs are important, but so is the preservation of green space. About 400 houses were planned for Haliimaile.
HPC has purchased and licensed key assets, and leased farm land, equipment and buildings from ML&P with plans to serve the Hawaii pineapple market. According to Haliimaile General Store manager Tim McGraw, if locals and visitors buy one Maui Gold pineapple a week, HPC has a real shot at becoming a viable, profitable company.