Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar History

  • HC&S is Hawaii's largest sugarcane plantation, founded by Claus Spreckels in 1882.
  • The old Spreckelsville factory was the site of the first use of electricity in Hawaii to illuminate and power round-the-clock operations; today HC&S provides 7-8% of Maui's electricity to MECO (less during drought).
  • Control passed to Alexander & Baldwin in 1898.
  • HC&S today includes not only the former Spreckels lands, but those of 14 other predecessor plantations - including Samuel Alexander and Henry Baldwin's original plantation, founded in 1870, the seed for what is today a diversified corporation, A&B, Inc.
  • Puunene mill was built in 1901.
  • Paia mill was built in 1880, completely rebuilt in 1905, and mothballed in 2000 to ensure the survival of sugar in the central valley.
  • HC&S became a division of A&B, Inc. in 1962.
  • The mills and power generation were computerized between 1985 and 1990.
  • All 37,000 acres under cultivation are drip irrigated.
  • Puunene Mill's daily capacity is 7200 tons of cane = 1000 tons of raw sugar.
  • Types of fuel used: bagasse, low sulphur Australian coal, and fuel oil.
  • HC&S is one of Maui's largest employers with almost 800 employees in 2010 and another 1000 retirees on the payroll.
  • HC&S is the only US producer of turbinado (dark) sugar, and the exclusive provider of turbinado sugar for Hawaiian Sun juices, and 'Sugar in the Raw' sold across the USA.
  • Since 2001 HC&S has considered itself an agricultural company rather than a sugar company.
  • Management is seriously looking at getting out of burning completely but they have to take into account the greater expense of cutting as well as the danger of creating unintended consequences. Burning kills rodents which otherwise have to be controlled with rat poison. Besides the danger of leptospirosis from rodent urine, pigs eat the poisoned rats, and many of the locals eat the innards (liver etc), which is very bad for pregnant women. In areas where they have stopped burning, there have been cock roach infestations of neighboring homes.
  • HC&S Websites: www.hcsugar.com and www.mauibrand.com

Painting by Eddie Flotte: Mill Across the Sugar Cane
Painting by Eddie Flotte: Mill Across the Sugar Cane
Painting by Eddie Flotte: Return to Sender Paia Mill
Painting by Eddie Flotte: Return to Sender Paia Mill
Painting by Eddie Flotte: Sugar Mill Elevator
Painting by Eddie Flotte: Sugar Mill Elevator