Several organizations have come together to launch the Maui Food Innovation Center (MFIC). The center is a new food business incubator located at the University of Hawaii Maui College (UHMC).
Key partners of MFIC include: the Abercrombie Administration, the Maui County Farm Bureau, UHMC, and the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation. The incubator offers new opportunity to farmers, ranchers, local entrepreneurs, and students to receive education and drive the development of value-added food products, providing services in product design, nutrition, food safety, and retail food sales and marketing.
The MFIC will help local farmers utilize excess harvest to create value-added products and increase profit. Between 30-40% of harvest is lost due to cosmetic or minor damage. Utilization of culled crops for value-added products will drastically reduce waste and increase profit. It would also help them stabilize farm-related business as value-added products have a fixed price while the market for fresh food can fluctuate greatly.
Governor Neil Abercrombie recently released $1.255 million through the state Department of Agriculture to the University of Hawai’i Maui College for design, planning and a portion of the construction cost to transform Maui College’s former cafeteria (Pilina building) into the new UH Food Innovation Center. The state funds will also be used to leverage federal and other project-related funding. The MFIC will be repurposed and refurbished into a fully equipped commercial kitchen on par with local and national government standards.