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About the Maui Food Innovation Center

What is the Maui Food Innovation Center?

The Maui Food Innovation Center (MFIC) is a business incubator designed to support local food producers through education and training, business incubation services, and research and development of food products.  Once our facility is built, MFIC will also be able to offer state-of-the-art, value-added food manufacturing.  


Our Core Values

To build a stronger, economically diverse, and sustainable Maui Nui by supporting a value-added industry for locally grown and produced food.
The Maui Food Innovation Center will serve as a catalyst for transforming food production in our local community, supporting local agriculture, generating new businesses and jobs, contributing to more locally produced foods and providing greater food security.

Maui has a proud history of local agriculture that now faces increasing challenges from foreign competition, increased production costs, and loss of family farms.

In 2011, the Hawaiʻi State Legislature provided an initial appropriation of $1.225 million to develop a value-added food production facility in a former campus kitchen facility at University of Hawaii Maui College. This was in response to a collaborative request by the Maui Farm Bureau, Hawaii Agriculture Foundation, and UHMC to make such a facility available on Maui.

The project evolved into the plan for a food innovation center as part of a 2012 USDA Rural Development Feasibility Study based on community input, prepared by industry consultant Lou Cooperhouse and his firm, Food Spectrum, Inc.

In 2012, UHMC received funding from the U.S. Dept. of Labor Trade Adjustment Act grant (part of a $12.7 million workforce training grant) to offer education and training courses in food manufacturing. The courses were launched in May 2014 and in July those became fully available online.

In June 2014, the State Legislature provided an additional $2.7 million to complete and equip the facility. That process is now underway.

 

Why a Food Innovation Center?

The State of Hawaiʻi currently imports 90% of its food, and is taking aggressive measures to increase capacity for local food production. Value-added options for local agricultural crops have been identified as a key need. The capacity to create food products is especially critical on neighbor islands such as Maui, where agriculture plays a more significant role in the economy and markets for fresh produce are limited.  In other states, food innovation centers have created millions of dollars in revenue by helping food producers achieve higher value from culls and excess produce, finding new markets, extending shelf-life through quality processing, and meeting stringent food safety regulations. In Hawaiʻi, local food production also plays a significant role in food security.

The MFIC will serve as a hub for a variety of businesses, services, and organizations. By connecting producers, wholesalers, suppliers, retailers and consumers, we forge the missing link needed to support a thriving local food industry (Figure 1).

 

cluster
Figure 1.  Schematic diagram of the Maui Food Innovation Center as a “Food Hub.”
The Maui Food Innovation Center has the potential to connect local business, production centers,
and key community partners to create a “Food Hub” for local food production.
The Maui Food Innovation Center is partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in the amount of $759,350. Funding does not pay for student costs to participate. The Maui Food Innovation Center is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. TDD/TTY: (808) 984-3325.