AR-Cal Distributing in Arvin, CA, has taken over as the exclusive North
American sales agent for the Maui Gold pineapple, which is now being grown
and packed by the Haliimaile Pineapple Co. Ltd. in Halliimaile, HI.
AR-Cal is the marketing and distribution arm of Trino Packing & Cold Storage
Inc., which is also headquartered in Arvin and owned by longtime produce
industry veteran John Trino.
Mr. Trino said that he has long had an affinity for Hawaii and became well
acquainted with the Maui Gold pineapple when it was being marketed by the
Maui Land & Pineapple Co.
That company, which owns and operates resort properties and golf courses in
addition to its agricultural division, has had well-publicized financial issues
during the past couple of years.
Maui Land & Pineapple Co. has sold off several golf courses and also sold the
rights to the "Maui Gold" brand name.
Mr. Trino said that backers of the new pineapple company have pumped a
good deal of money into the operation over the past year and have secured
significant land for production.
Since Jan. 1, Haliimaile has been shoring up the sales of pineapples in Hawaii
and has been mostly using Calavo for its mainland sales. Mr. Trino has been
consulting for the firm on an informal basis since 2009 while it was under
development, and recently agreed to the exclusive marketing agreement.
“I am basically going to be acting as a broker and a sales agent,” he said.
“Haliimaile will do billing and invoicing.”
Mr. Trino said that the key to successful sales of the Maui Gold pineapple on
the mainland is to limit supplies to the extent that there is demand.
“I told them to build up their sales in Hawaii and to grow slowly in North
America,” Mr. Trino said. “You cannot flood the market. No longer will there
be consignment sales. Everything will be an f.o.b. sale.”
AR-Cal's agreement was slated to begin officially Oct. 1, but on Sept. 29,
when Mr. Trino spoke with The Produce News, he said, “We have cans on the
water and are taking orders.”
He said that the f.o.b. price Long Beach, CA, or Seattle, which are the two
ports to which the product is being shipped and unloaded via ocean freighter,
was $11.50 on that day.
“There has been about a five- or six-week gap in supplies, which has made
for a good transition,” he added.
Although the Maui Gold has typically enjoyed better sales on the West Coast
because of its proximity to Hawaii, Mr. Trino said that the company is selling
nationwide and will air freight to the East Coast when appropriate.
But he added that Mexican pineapples are typically $2-$4 cheaper and enjoy a
freight rate advantage to the East Coast, so the demand is limited.
“But it is the best-tasting pineapple there is,” he stated.
Handling sales of the product for AR-Cal is Harold Stein, another longtime
produce sales veteran.