Tuesday, October 19, 1999

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Sotera Simpliciano, granddaughter Ofelia Simpliciano and
daughter Edna Cabiles use two shopping carts to load
up on rice at Sam's Club in Pearl City.

Neighbor isle shoppers
also stock up

Strike wouldn't stop military mess
Strike fears spark shopping spree
Dockworkers on job with no pact

By Gary T. Kubota
and Anthony Sommer


A buying panic on rice and toilet paper has hit stores around the state -- a result some say of memories of dock strikes decades ago that depleted supplies.

On Maui, Ooka Super Market in Wailuku was out of rice and toilet paper as of yesterday evening, but a new shipment was expected by Thursday.

Vaughn Hamai, the manager of Foodland in Kahului, said more than 200 20-pound bags of rice were sold yesterday.

Hamai said customers at Foodland were following the stock clerks and taking the bags of rice as they were placed on grocery shelves.

On Kauai, locally owned Big Save Markets has had a run on rice and "we're scrambling for produce and meat," said company controller Wes Park.

One Big Save store yesterday sold six pallets (a pallet is 110 20-pound bags) of rice. A normal day's sale for that store is a half pallet, Park said.

Park said Kauai shoppers consider rice an "indispensable" commodity and in 1971, when a West Coast dock strike shut down Hawaii ports, most local households tried to keep between six and eight extra 20-pound bags on hand.

Big Save and many other chains depend on Fleming Foods Hawaii on Oahu for toilet paper, which also is being stockpiled in many homes.

"Fleming told us today they would allocate what they have to all their customers but once it's gone, it's gone," Park said.

Big Save has alerted local farmers that if there was a dock strike, they likely will be in the market for whole fields of crops that normally would be sold at local farmer's markets. They've also told local ranchers they may be in the market for Kauai beef, although the meat from cattle directly from the range is tougher than many customers are used to.

So far, consumer hoarding rather than delivery slowdowns has accounted for shortages. Park said deliveries of new supplies ran only two days behind last week.

The picture was the same at local, regional and national chain stores on Kauai with hoarding of rice, paper goods, frozen foods and dairy products common.

But the panic hasn't spread everywhere.

On the Big Island, Brian Luna, Sack 'N Save Hilo store director, said his shelves are well stocked.

"We get our supplies from Fleming Foods and they are shipped from Honolulu by Young Brothers...We get a shipment twice a week -- every Friday and Tuesday." Sack 'n Save has three stores on the Big Island -- two in Hilo and one in Kona. "We have no shortages as of now," he added.

Star-Bulletin writer Gregg K. Kakesako contributed to this report

Strike wouldn’t stop
military mess

By Gregg K. Kakesako


Military officials say dining facilities will remain open despite the threat of a waterfront shutdown.

All of the dining facilities are supplied by Fleming Foods, which has its major warehouses in Campbell Industrial Park totaling 350,000 square feet.

The Army serves the most meals a day -- averaging 5,585 servings at nine dining facilities: five at Schofield Barracks, and one each at Wheeler Army Airfield, the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy at East Range, Helemano Military Reservation and Fort Shafter.

Capt. Rich Spiegel, 25th Infantry Division spokesman, said Fleming has assured the Army's food installation adviser that it does not anticipate any shortfall.

"The worst might be a substitution of some of our name brands food items, but they are telling us that they do not even foresee that."

Fleming also services the Navy's six dining facilities: three at Pearl Harbor and one each at Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific at Wahiawa, Lualualei Naval Magazine and Naval Security Group Activity at Kunia.

The Navy's six dining facilities average 450 breakfasts, 1,785 lunches, 410 dinners and 60 late night meals a day.

At Hickam Air Force Base, the dining facility averages about 1,000 meals a day. Officials have been reassured by Fleming that "there is a two-week supply of food in their warehouses," said 1st Lt. Amy Suffak, Hickam spokeswoman.

Alan Esperas, commissary official at Pearl Harbor, noted there was some "panic buying" of rice and toilet paper on Sunday, but as of yesterday "stock levels are good."

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