Lots of moolah needed in Maui

August 17, 2008|By Los Angeles Times

My spouse and I are planning a trip to Maui, Hawaii. We have heard that food prices in markets and restaurants have soared recently in Hawaii because of the increased costs of fuel. What can we expect to pay?

A small fortune.

Hawaii's food prices have always been higher because of shipping costs, and with gas prices in the stratosphere - well, owie, Maui.

Or, for a more eloquent answer, read what Lynn Nakamura-Tengan, an extension educator for the University of Hawaii, said in a recent e-mail: "Maui does have the highest fuel prices in the state. Shippers are adding fuel surcharges, which adds to costs of all items. Even ... locally produced foods are affected by fuel prices since farmers and wholesalers are paying fuel surcharges on items such as boxes, fertilizers or produce being shipped inter-island."

Even before the fuel run-up, U.S. Department of Agriculture figures for the second half of 2007 showed that in Hawaii it cost about $300 a month more to feed a family of four a very modest diet than it did a family on the mainland.

That hits families such as the Garsos of Lahaina hard. Lahela Garso and husband Keoni have two girls and are taking care of two nephews. She does a jumbo shopping trip about every six weeks at a big-box store. "Our last bill was $550. Before that, we'd never gone past $400. I couldn't believe it. "

So how bad is it? A quick scan of last week's specials for Safeway in Lahaina bears out the pain. At the Maui store, shoppers paid $10 for two gallons of milk and $3.49 for a loaf of butter-top bread.

To keep costs down, look for hotel deals that come with breakfast or consider a condo where you can make your meals. Unfortunately, paradise comes at a price.

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