It wasn’t long ago that the idea of food fraud would have been an alien concept to most. Today, it’s more prevalent and problematic than most people realize. Whether it’s passing off a cheap cut of meat as Kobe beef or advertising low-grade coffee beans as the best Kona coffee Hawaii produces, some sellers will go to extreme lengths to turn a profit.
While it’s ultimately the consumer that ends up out of pocket, food fraud can also have grave implications for genuine artisan producers. In the case of Hawaiian coffee, the process involved in cultivating the best Kona coffee beans is painstaking and arduous. The resulting product is one of sophistication and prestige, which subsequently commands a high price.
Unfortunately, it’s also a product that’s become the number-one target for countless counterfeiting operations worldwide. Not to mention, those who deliberately use misleading labels and marketing messages to make you think you’re buying the best Kona coffee Hawaii produces, when it’s actually nothing of the sort.
The issue became so problematic as of late that a number of Kona coffee producers came together to file a class action lawsuit against no fewer than 19 coffee brands. All of which they accused of labelling their products as ‘Kona coffee’ when they actually contained few or no Kona coffee beans whatsoever.
Of particular prevalence is ‘blended’ Kona coffee, wherein just a small proportion of Hawaiian coffee is mixed with other coffees from around the world. Incredibly, a Kona blend only needs to contain 10% Kona coffee to be legally labelled as a real Kona blend. Hardly a huge concentration of real Kona coffee, but countless blends being sold don’t even come close to reaching this minimum legal quantity.
Whether shopping for Kona coffee at your local store or online on Amazon Prime Day, carefully consulting the label comes highly recommended.
The extent of the problem is clearly illustrated in two simple figures. Each year, the Kona coffee district in Hawaii produces no more than 2.7 million lbs of Kona coffee. Yet somehow, more than 20 million lbs of coffee products are labelled as Kona coffee each year.
Suffice to say, the numbers simply do not add up.
Of course, the whole point of a marketing strategy is to convince customers to buy a product. Even if it means getting creative with the truth and slightly warping the reality of what’s inside, it’s more or less the norm.
As a result, the farmers responsible for the lawsuit are emphasizing the importance of the ‘buyer beware’ approach. If planning on picking up discounted coffee this Amazon Prime Day, the importance of shopping exclusively with a trusted and reputable seller cannot be overstated.
Deals and discounts on quality Hawaiian coffee are not uncommon, but anything that seems too good to be true should be treated with suspicion. If in doubt, check the origins of the coffee and research the brand behind it before buying.
In case you don’t feel like waiting until the next Amazon Prime Day, you can order the best Kona coffee beans from Hayman’s online store. At our specialty coffee store, the best 100% Kona coffee Hawaii produces is available for you as unroasted coffee beans / raw coffee beans (for home roasting), roasted whole bean coffee, roasted ground coffee, and Nespresso®* compatible pods. Click here to order today, we offer free worldwide shipping!
* Nespresso® is a registered trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé S.A., unrelated to Hayman ®. Our espresso pods are not created or sold by Nespresso®.