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Mahi Pono now majority owner of Maui Cattle Co. hui of ranchers

Under the new agreement, the five Maui ranches will sell their calves to Kulolio Ranch

Mahi Pono, which owns Kulolio Ranch, now has a controlling interest in Maui Cattle Co., which also includes five Maui ranching companies — Haleakala Ranch, Ulupalakua Ranch, Nobriga Ranch, Kaupo Ranch and Hana Ranch. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Maui News

Mahi Pono announced Thursday that it has acquired a majority position in Maui Cattle Co., a joint entity that will continue to include five independently owned Maui ranches.

Kulolio Ranch, a Mahi Pono affiliate, has been working with Maui Cattle Co. since 2017. Under a grazing agreement, forged when Alexander & Baldwin owned the ranch, ranchers provided calves, while retaining ownership, to Kulolio Ranch, which raised them to maturity and market weight, with the ranch paid based on the weight gain.

Under the new agreement, the five Maui ranches will sell their calves to Kulolio Ranch, where they will graze and forage until mature, a Mahi Pono news release said. Once the cattle are fully mature, they will be transferred to Maui Cattle Co. for processing “in compliance with strictest of industry standards and then prepared for distribution.”

The five longtime, family-owned ranches on Maui will continue to be equity owners in Maui Cattle Co., Mahi Pono said. The ranches include Haleakala Ranch, Ulupalakua Ranch, Nobriga Ranch, Kaupo Ranch and Hana Ranch, which collectively operate on 50,000 acres of land.

There will be no immediate changes to operations or employees, the news release said. No terms were announced.

“At Mahi Pono, we are constantly exploring opportunities to help Hawaii reduce its dependence on imported food,” said Shan Tsutsui, senior vice president for operations at Mahi Pono. “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.”

Local production only accounts for 6 percent of beef consumed in Hawaii; 94 percent of beef is imported, Mahi Pono said. Currently, Maui Cattle Co. markets more than 10,000 pounds of Maui beef each week.

Tsutsui said Mahi Pono’s stake in Maui Cattle Co. will allow “for more local, Maui beef and help to reduce our dependence on imports.”

He said Mahi Pono has been “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.”

“We share the same beliefs and are proud to partner with them,” Tsutsui continued. “At Mahi Pono, we want to ensure that ranching continues to be an active part of our island heritage while working to ensure that locally produced beef is successful on Maui.”

Tsutsui also said Kulolio Ranch’s long-term goal is to increase acres of pastureland.

Alex Franco, president of Maui Cattle Co., said the partnership is “good news for Maui’s ranching industry.” The ranches can continue to raise cattle, and “hopefully even increase the production and distribution of Maui-grown and grazed beef.”

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