On August 21, 2013, Kona Coffee Farmers Association President Cecelia Smith wrote to Hawaiian Airlines President & CEO Mark B. Dunkerley requesting that the Hawaiian Airlines to discontinue a giveaway to passengers of deceptively labeled packets of coffee using the “Kona” name, but not disclosing where 90% of the coffee in the packet was grown. The letter noted that, “The reputation of Kona coffee as one of the world’s best specialty coffees is a significant factor in encouraging visitors to come to Hawaii—and to travel on Hawaiian Airlines. We encourage Hawaiian Airlines to support the farmers who grow what is now Hawaii’s premier agriculture product—and protect the good name of this heritage Hawaiian crop.”
In a response dated September 20, Mr. Dunkerley advised Ms. Smith the giveaway program would be discontinued before year’s end and that Hawaiian Airlines “will not be renewing this promotion.” He also expressed appreciation for the work of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association’s work in developing the market for Kona coffee.
Ms. Smith said that she is “particularly pleased with this recognition of the work of our association. More than 350 members strong, the KCFA is continuing to build awareness on the part of visitors and Hawaii residents alike, that only when 100% of the coffee in the packages is Kona-grown are consumers getting real ‘Kona Coffee’. We look forward to working with Hawaiian Airlines in the future to build a broad appreciation among air passengers for the many unique Hawaiian-grown agricultural products.”