Commissaries seek new products at local food show

| August 13, 2010 | 2 Comments

Nancy O’Nell, Defense Commissary Agency West Public Affairs

Victoria Powers, a commissary store associate, replenishes chocolate-covered nuts in the Schofield Barracks Commissary. Store directors from the commissaries on Oahu and commissary buyers will attend a food show in Waikiki, Aug. 19, to evaluate and select products produced in Hawaii. (Alfredo Mendoza, Defense Commissary Agency)HONOLULU — Ice cream, honey, salsa and sizzling marinated beef will be among the foods presented by more than 80 small business owners from Hawaii, to Defense Commissary Agency buyers, during the 13th Annual American Logistics Association Hawaii Food Show, Aug. 19, at the Hawaii Prince Hotel in Waikiki.
DeCA buyers can taste-test locally produced products and interact one-on-one with business owners before selecting new products for commissary shelves.
DeCA operates four military commissaries on Oahu.
“Selecting products and keeping store shelves stocked is the core of the commissary business,” said Thomas Milks, acting director and CEO, DeCA. “During the food show, we look for products that reflect the unique tastes and culture of the Hawaiian Islands to satisfy the huge demand military shoppers have for products made in Hawaii.”
The show is hosted by the American Logistics Association, a nonprofit trade association of manufacturers, manufacturer’s representatives, brokers, distributors, publishers and service providers who sell or provide products to military resale systems and to various military Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation services activities.
Commissaries in Hawaii routinely stock more than 3,000 grocery items from local companies and more than 100 varieties of locally grown fruits and vegetables. The combined value of these products is $41 million. More than $16 million of these grocery products are uniquely Hawaiian items like coffee, marinades and bakery products.
“There are many ways for local business owners to present products to DeCA, but the Hawaii food show is the most popular method with vendors,” said Vicki Sliwicki, a DeCA buyer who will be attending the show for the 10th year.
One advantage of the food show is that DeCA buyers come to Hawaii for the presentation, so business owners can sell the attributes of their products in-person, and the product can be presented the way it would taste if cooked at home. A company with marinades or rubs can offer samples of its product on beef and chicken hot from the grill. Beverages can be served ice-cold.
DeCA buyers also provide each company with personal feedback within a few days of the show, a valuable education for any company wishing to do business with a government agency.
“Among other things, we provide one-on-one feedback to a company on their marketing plan,” Sliwicki said. “We explore whether the company has the resources to keep steady supplies of the product flowing to the commissaries.”
More than 161,000 military service members, retirees and their family members live on Oahu, making military commissaries an attractive market to local businesses.
During the past 12 years, DeCA has placed 1,571 products in commissaries as a direct result of the ALA Hawaii Food Show, and some of these products are now sold in commissaries worldwide.
“Service members travel the world over and taste foods from many cultures,” said Sliwicki. “We owe it to them to find the very best products from Hawaii.” 

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  1. Ray Ski says:

    We love the Chocolate covered Macadamia nuts! We have been REALLY disappointed that the commissary & PX has not sold them in the past 3-4 years. They remind us of the great time that we had serving in Hawaii and are not available at most retailers in the CONUS. Will they be available this coming year? If so, why not? I know they are very popular because when (the BX/PX) every time we went to buy some, if they were available at all, there would only be one or two left.

    • haw says:

      Hello, Ray — Please query the Commissary about your questions, instead of the Hawaii Army Weekly newspaper online. Call for any Commissary number at 808-449-7110, which is base information. State the name of the base and ask for the Commissary number.

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