High demand for ice in Hawaii leaves businesses, suppliers with a shortage

Nation and World

HONOLULU, Hawaii (KHON2) – Extremely high demand for ice is causing a brain freeze for suppliers in Hawaii, and the challenge to meet those demands is trickling down to local businesses amid hotter and drier conditions.

“This past Tuesday I think was the first time we ever had no ice,” said Kendall Shimazu, owner of Shimazu Shave Ice. “We never had it where I couldn’t completely open, but it just happened.”

Shimazu Shave Ice decided instead to open a little later to have enough ice for everyone to enjoy — and that is not all.

“Right now we’re only doing small and kid sizes and they’re still pretty big. One time someone came in and ordered 10 larges. After that I was like, we can’t keep doing this, because we’re going to run out of ice,” Shimazu said.

Ice suppliers are working overtime to meet the demand.

“Because of the machines being run so much and overtime, actually one of our machines broke down recently,” said Kurt Osaki, owner of Ali’i Ice and Kauai Ice.

“We’re seeing this year that we’re selling a larger volume of ice then we were in 2019 and it’s also hotter,” said Michael Wildberger, owner of Kihei Ice Company.

A mixture of loosened restrictions, summer and tourism is building up the need for ice. But how hard is it to make more?

“Our ice process takes anywhere from 16 to 20 hours… so it’s not like a continuous process. It’s sort of long, drawn-out process that we need to have different shifts at different hours to try and replenish our stuff,” said Osaki.

The solution will be to ramp up production, but there are some challenges with that as well.

“We’re going to ramp up business in Hilo and produce more ice, but that will take a little while because of the machinery that has come in because of the storage space that we need to provide,” said Osaki.

Experts expect the demand to stabilize in September when summer cools down.

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