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For Del Monte, aloha means farewell

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc announced that it will end its Hawaii pineapple operations by mid-2008.

“It would be cheaper for Del Monte to buy pineapples on the open market than for the company to grow, market, and distribute Hawaiian pineapple,” the firm said in a statement.

Del Monte also said it had a problem securing a long-term lease extension from landowner Campbell Estate.

But according to Bert Hatton, vice-president of Campbell Estate, Del Monte spurned a lease extension in 2001. The estate also proposed selling the pineapple acreage in three separate proposals, but Del Monte turned them all down, he said.

Planting on the Kunia plantation on Oahu was targeted to stop February 19; Del Monte's current crop will produce fruit for the next two years, the company said.

In 1916, Del Monte — then known as California Packing Corp — started its pineapple operations in Hawaii.

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