Mahi Pono becomes majority partner of Maui Cattle Co., acquires slaughterhouse

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By  – Real Estate Editor, Pacific Business News

Mahi Pono, the farming venture that bought 41,000 acres of former sugar cane land on Maui from Alexander & Baldwin, said Thursday that it is now the majority partner of Maui Cattle Co., a collaborative between five family owned ranches on the Valley Isle, and is also the new owner of Maui Cattle Co.’s slaughterhouse and USDA-certified processing facility.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Mahi Pono said in a news release that Haleakala Ranch, Ulupalakua Ranch, Nobriga Ranch, Kaupo Ranch and Hana Ranch, which operate on about 50,000 acres of land on Maui, will continue to be equity owners of Maui Cattle Co. and said there “will be no immediate changes to operations or employees.”

Mahi Pono acquired A&B’s grass-fed cattle project at Kulolio Ranch as part of the $262 million purchase of the former Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. land in late 2018.

“At Mahi Pono, we are constantly exploring opportunities to help Hawaii reduce its dependence on imported food. In addition to growing local produce at our Maui farm, having a consistent supply of locally raised and finished beef will help our island take a step closer to achieving food security,” Shan Tsutsui, senior vice president of operations at Mahi Pono and former Hawaii lieutenant governor, said in a statement. “We have been so impressed with the experience and knowledge of the ranchers and their operations, as well as their commitment to sustainability, the environment and desire to produce food for our community.”

The five ranches will sell calves to Kulolio Ranch where they will graze until mature, then will be transferred to Maui Cattle Co. for processing “in compliance with strictest of industry standards and then prepared for distribution,” Mahi Pono said.

Maui Cattle Co. currently markets more than 10,000 pounds of Maui-raised beef each week.

“This new partnership with Mahi Pono is good news for Maui’s ranching industry,” Alex Franco, president of Maui Cattle Co., said in a statement. “It will allow us to continue doing what we have done for generations and hopefully even increase the production and distribution of Maui-grown and grazed beef.”

Tsutsui noted that local beef production accounts for only about 6% of the meat consumed in Hawaii, “which means 94% of our beef is imported.”

“Our long-term goal is to increase the acres of pasture land at Kulolio Ranch and expand cold storage facilities at the slaughterhouse, allowing for more local, Maui- beef and help to reduce our dependence on imports,” he said.

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