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Kokua Market: Going Local for 47 Years

August 7, 2018

When we launched Kunoa beef in retail stores last year, Kokua Market was one of our first supporters. It meant a lot to us to be embraced by this pioneer in Hawaii’s local food movement, so we wanted to return the favor and share their story.

In the 1970s, local stores didn’t carry much in the way of “health food.” A small group of University of Hawaii teachers and students took it upon themselves to bring healthier food options to Honolulu by creating the state’s first food cooperative in 1971. Forty-seven years later, the market is still cooperatively owned by its members, now numbering 4,300.

Anyone can shop at Kokua Market, but members receive discounts and other benefits, as well as a voice in the store’s operations. The market also hosts owners’ appreciation weekends where owners may come and meet the vendors, try samples and receive even more discounts.

As the local food movement has grown in the last five to 10 years, Kokua Market has been right there with it. They are able to source 65 percent of their produce from local farms. “Carrying local food is part of our mission because sustainability is also part of our mission, as is supporting local food producers,” says Pamela Gring-Fee, chairperson of Kokua’s board of directors. “This means less of a carbon footprint.”

Located on South King Street near University Avenue, Kokua Market is well stocked with everything you need to eat healthy: fresh organic produce; meats; cheese and dairy; bulk spices oils, grains, and other foods; fresh baked breads and baked goods; even seafood from Local I’a and kombucha on tap.

It’s also a great place to grab a nourishing meal. Chef Jean-Pierre makes sandwiches and stocks the salad and hot bar with a rotating selection of dishes that cater to all: meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans. (We’re partial to his beef stew made with Kunoa beef.) You can grab a meal to go or enjoy it in the dining area behind the store, an oasis of picnic tables and shade trees.

In addition to the beef used in the hot bar menu, in the freezer, Kokua Market carries almost every cut of Kunoa beef available — New York strip, ribeye, tri-tip, stew meat, hanging tenders, tenderloin, flank steak, top sirloin, ground beef, short ribs, bones, brisket, and more.

Kokua Market’s support has been essential in bringing healthy, local beef to our communities as well as gaining feedback about our food systems and products. The staff and owners at Kokua Market provide a place where we can have an open an honest conversation about Hawaii’s food security and how to best build our food systems together.

Mahalo, Kokua members — all 4,300 of you!

Kokua Market
2643 South King St.
Honolulu, HI, 96826
(808) 941-1922