CLEANING UP AFTER THE QUAKES
Markets begin tossing spoiled goods
Stores are trying to assess the cost of the outage
The messy work of tossing out melted ice cream, spoiled dairy and not-so-fresh food was in full swing at Hawaii grocery stores yesterday as officials counted losses from the day-long power outage resulting from Sunday's earthquakes.
The Safeway store at Aikahi Park Shopping Center had removed much of the ice cream from an end-cap freezer, leaving it nearly empty. The refrigerated deli case bore several empty shelves normally occupied by fresh but perishable convenience foods, such as macaroni salad.
Workers clean up merchandise that littered an aisle in the Kailua-Kona KTA grocery store after earthquakes struck off the coast of Big Island on Sunday. The quakes caused power outages and damage throughout the state.
At Times Super Market in Kailua, efforts to minimize losses began shortly after the power went out, with perishables such as meats and seafood placed in freezer cases.
At midday yesterday, Roger Godfrey, president of Times Super Market Ltd., was bracing for the totals.
"We put as much (as possible) in the back room and seal the doors to maintain the temperature," he said. Nevertheless, there would not be room for all the perishables in refrigerator cases, he said, "and I'm assuming quite a bit of that will be unsaleable."
Despite Sunday's outage and yesterday's clean-up work, operations were back to normal, he said.
"Our people in the stores and even our department directors ... did a great job. We're pleased," he said.
Longs Drug Stores, normally crowded during its Sunday sales, closed stores on Sunday on a case-by-case basis, spokeswoman Farra Levin said from California. As of yesterday morning, Hawaii's stores were "up and moving, including the pharmacy," she said.
7-Eleven Hawaii Inc. closed all of its Hawaii stores Sunday "until the lights came back on," said Blake Yokotake, human resources manager. With lights off and only two employees per store, "it's difficult to escort customers" through the darkened stores and complete transactions safely, he said.
The stores suffered no damage. About half the 7-Elevens on Oahu were open by Sunday evening, he said. Neighbor island stores were up and running earlier in the day, and once reopened, sales were brisk.
"The downside is we're gonna hurt today," he said yesterday. Vendors that prepare and deliver fresh foods such as Spam musubi and bentos twice a day were shut down by Sunday's outage. "We're taking a smash today, worse than it was (Sunday)," he said.
Hot dogs and manapua were available yesterday morning, but fresh pastries were not. Yokotake predicted a return to normalcy by today.
At least two companies that supply goods to Hawaii's grocery retailers were prepared for Sunday's blackout with back-up power supplies.
Meadow Gold Dairies lost no product on Sunday, spokeswoman Jackie Smythe said. "Production and everything is fine," she said. No shortages are anticipated.
Sunday is normally a busy day for unloading of shipments at Armstrong Produce Ltd. "We had quite a number, almost a dozen containers, that we kept at Matson, because Matson had auxiliary power to be able to keep them chilled. That was the fortunate part," Marketing Director Tish Uyehara said.
However, Uyehara expects some grocery store shortages of fruits and vegetables, because while Armstrong brings produce in each week to replenish supplies, grocers may find themselves needing larger, more wide-ranging shipments than normal.
"I think everybody's trying to get their bearings today ... I'm sure starting (today) we'll start getting a better idea" of what will be needed, she said.