DeCA picks up local grinds to stock from Hawaii food show

| August 26, 2011 | 0 Comments
Susan Campbell, director (left), Schofield Barracks Commissary, meets with vendors at the ALA’s 14th Annual Hawaii Food Show, Aug. 17, at the Hawaii Prince Hotel in Waikiki. The show gives local vendors a chance to showcase their products to DeCA.

Susan Campbell, director (left), Schofield Barracks Commissary, meets with vendors at the ALA’s 14th Annual Hawaii Food Show, Aug. 17, at the Hawaii Prince Hotel in Waikiki. The show gives local vendors a chance to showcase their products to DeCA.

Story and Photo by
Stephanie Bryant
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs

WAIKIKI — The smell of Hawaiian coffee and the sound of sizzling meat filled the Mauna Kea Room at Hawaii Prince Hotel, here, during the American Logistics Association’s 14th Annual Hawaii Food Show, Aug, 17.

The food show offers the Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCA, buyers the opportunity to not only interact with Hawaii’s local business owners, but taste and see the products before selecting what will go on the commissary shelves.

The food show, which at its debut had only a handful of small businesses participating, has grown to show more than 80 small businesses from the islands, not just Oahu, this year.

DeCA, which operates the four commissaries on Oahu, uses this unique event to allow local businesses to get their products in the commissaries without having to travel to the East Coast. Mainland buying is done in Fort Lee, Va., and businesses usually go to DeCA, said Keith Hagenbuch, senior executive service director, DeCA West.

“For (local businesses), traveling to Virginia would be very costly,” he said. “We want to see (local) products without inconveniencing the small businesses.”

In addition to the opportunity that the food show presents local businesses, DeCA representatives sit down with each participating local business and provide feedback about the product and business as to why it was or was not picked up.

This year, each participating business also received an ALA membership.

Hagenbuch said local commissaries have picked up around 1,800 new products during the last 13 years. That number does not include the 144 line items that were picked up at this year’s event.

Some of the new products picked up this year include a new line of coffee, energy micro-shot drinks, multipurpose cleaners and pork rinds.

Seven new companies that have not done business with the commissaries were picked up this year as well. Two of those new companies are outer-island companies not residing on Oahu.

Susan Campbell, director, Schofield Barracks Commissary, enjoys the food show because she likes being a part of the decision-making process.

“We see the item, and we know what our clientele is looking for, and we get to make the decision about which local items make it to our shelves,” she said.

Campbell, who has been Schofield’s Commissary director for just under 5 years, said the commissaries on Oahu provide a huge savings for their patrons. In every department, a 49- to 50-percent savings is realized compared to local store prices.

Campbell said to offer these savings is important to service members, while also supporting the local community and businesses.

Representatives from the military exchanges also attended the event.

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Category: Army Community Covenant, Community

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