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Bread is an important staple food for many people in Hawaii, where food prices are notoriously high due to the islands’ remote location and reliance on imports. With households on tight budgets wondering ‘how much is a loaf of bread in Hawaii?

‘, we dive into the factors impacting bread costs throughout the islands.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: a standard loaf of bread in Hawaii costs $2.99 to $8.99 on average, but specialty loaves can cost more than $10.

Average Price of Bread in Hawaii

White Bread

A standard loaf of white bread costs around $4-5 in Hawaii, which is quite expensive compared to most places in the mainland United States. The high prices are largely due to Hawaii’s isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which significantly increases transportation costs for imported goods.

Additionally, relative scarcity of large bakeries and grain farms in Hawaii also drive up costs.

Popular local brands of white bread like Love’s Bakery and Kona Mountain Bakery source some ingredients locally to keep costs down. However, even with local sourcing, a 20 ounce loaf typically ranges from the mid $3 range on sale to around $5-6 normally.

At local grocers like Foodland and Safeway, national brands like Wonder Bread and Nature’s Own can cost over $6 per loaf.

Wheat Bread

Like white bread, wheat bread comes at a premium cost for Hawaiian residents and visitors. A standard loaf of 100% whole wheat bread costs $5-7 in most grocery stores and bakeries. Brands like Dave’s Killer Bread charge up to $8 per loaf for their organic whole grain offerings.

The higher than average prices for wheat bread mainly stem from increased ingredient costs compared to white bread, especially with the whole grains. Shipping costs also have a large influence, as most wheat crops are grown in the mainland United States or Canada.

For instance, King Arthur Baking Company sources their organic wheat from farms in Montana and ships the grain over 2,500 miles to Hawaii.

Specialty Breads

Beyond regular white and wheat loaves, Hawaii offers a range of unique and culturally-influenced specialty breads. Some examples include:

  • Hawaiian Sweet Bread: this fluffy, mildly sweet white bread is iconic in Hawaii. A loaf costs $5-6.
  • Pānaiāi: a Native Hawaiian fermented bread made from poi taro. It can cost over $10 per loaf.
  • Portuguese Sweet Bread: a rich, sweet egg bread influenced by Portuguese immigrants to Hawaii. Around $6 per loaf.
  • Taro Bread: made with taro grown in Hawaii, it has a purple color and nutty flavor. Loaves run $8-10.

These specialty breads require more unique, harder to source ingredients compared to regular breads, hence their steep prices. Their production is also very labor intensive, utilizing old Hawaiian and immigrant recipes and cooking methods.

Factors Impacting the Cost of Bread

Import Costs

Hawaii imports over 85-90% of its food, including wheat for bread, according to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. This heavy reliance on imports significantly increases costs since ingredients must be shipped very long distances by boat or plane.

For example, a 50 pound bag of flour might cost a bakery $25-30 in Los Angeles but could be well over $50 after shipping to Honolulu.

Fuel is required for transport and Hawaii typically has some of the highest electricity costs in the nation according to the EIA, further increasing overhead expenses for local bakeries and ingredient suppliers.

Overall, the high costs of importing basic ingredients from the mainland U.S. or foreign countries results in higher retail pricing for consumers.

Local Production Challenges

Attempts have been made to produce more wheat locally but there are many obstacles. The volcanic soil and tropical climate make it difficult to profitably grow grains at a meaningful commercial scale. Operational costs are very high too – land, labor, agricultural supplies are considerably more expensive compared to other wheat producing states.

There are some small local mills like Nalo Farms working to make 100% Hawaiian bread by growing, milling and baking locally. But volumes are still tiny relative to total consumption. Until locally milled flour can be produced affordably at scale, most bakeries have no choice but to pay inflated prices for imported ingredients.

Taxes and Regulations

Hawaii has an exceptionally high cost of living and high taxes are a contributing factor. The state general excise tax (GET) can add 4-5% or more to item prices. There are also many strict regulations around ingredient labeling, packaging, waste disposal and other compliance costs that get passed to consumers.

New USDA requirements around bioengineered (BE) food labeling will also likely increase costs in the years ahead. Since Hawaii imports most wheat and other grains from mainland states that do grow BE crops like herbicide tolerant canola, tracking and verifying BE status throughout supply chains will be an added burden for local bakers and mills.

How Prices Compare to Other States

The cost of living, including the price of basic necessities like food, is exceptionally high in Hawaii compared to other states. This is especially true when it comes to the cost of a loaf of bread.

Higher Transportation Costs

One major reason behind Hawaii’s steep prices is that transportation costs are much higher to ship goods to the islands. Hawaii is located over 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland, meaning products need to be flown or shipped by sea at considerable expense. This gets passed onto consumers.

Inflation and Limited Options

Another issue is that Hawaii deals with the same inflation as other states, but has fewer substitute options for goods and services. If prices rise too much on certain products, people in other states can opt for lower-priced alternatives.

Hawaii residents don’t have this luxury with an island economy.

Comparisons by State

To illustrate the price differences, here is a comparison of the average cost of a loaf of white bread across some states:

Hawaii $5.71
California $2.78
Texas $2.21
Ohio $2.05

As the table shows, a standard loaf of white sandwich bread costs over 2.5 times more in Hawaii than Texas. And Hawaii’s prices are more than double even high-cost states like California.

Other High Prices

Bread is just one example of Hawaii’s exceptionally high cost of living. Prices for housing, utilities, healthcare, and other basics are all well above U.S. averages. Wage growth has not kept pace with inflating costs, meaning many locals struggle financially.

Those considering a move to Hawaii should carefully weigh the impact of high everyday expenses against the appeal of island living. Tourists may love visiting the state’s beaches, but its paradise comes at a steep price for residents.

Saving Money on Bread

Buy Store Brands

Opting for store brands over national brands is one of the easiest ways to save money on bread in Hawaii. Stores like Safeway, Foodland, and Walmart have their own private label breads that are typically 20-30% cheaper than big name brands like Wonder Bread or Nature’s Own.

The ingredient quality and nutrition of store brands has improved tremendously over the years. In blind taste tests, many shoppers find they actually prefer the taste of store brand breads. The savings quickly add up for families buying multiple loaves per week.

Look for Sales and Coupons

It pays to be a savvy shopper when buying bread in Hawaii. Watch for weekly sales and promotions at grocery stores. Foodland and Safeway both run weekly ads with discounted bread when you buy multiple loaves at once. You can easily save $1 per loaf or more.

Sign up for free loyalty programs to get additional sale prices. Check newspaper inserts and online sites like for printable coupons on bread. Occasionally you may find high value coupons offering $1 or $2 off name brand breads.

Combining a coupon with an in-store sales price cuts costs significantly.

Purchase Bread Alternatives

Purchasing bread alternatives allows you to save money while still enjoying sandwiches and toast. Options like bagels, English muffins, biscuits, tortillas, pita bread, and rolls can all be found for under $2.50 per package.

Compare prices and buy whichever bread substitute provides the most servings for your dollar. For example, a package of 8 bagels may be cheaper than a loaf of discount bread. When pitas go on sale at 2 packages for $5, load up your freezer to make gyros and pita sandwiches on the cheap for months.

Getting creative with alternatives stretches your food dollars further.

Bread Alternative Average Price Per Package
Bagels $2.29
English Muffins $1.99
Biscuits $1.59
Tortillas $1.99

Check out sites like Bread Savings Hawaii and Cheap Hawaii for more creative ideas on affording your sandwich fix while living on the islands.


With bread averaging $2.99 to $8.99 per loaf across Hawaii, costs are substantially higher compared to most other states. Key reasons include Hawaii’s reliance on imported ingredients, small local production levels, and high taxes and regulations.

Still, savvy shoppers can find savings by purchasing cheaper store brands, timing purchases around sales and coupons, and exploring lower-cost bread alternatives.

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