Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

Known for its sunny beaches, surfing, and Hawaiian culture, the islands of Hawaii might not immediately come to mind as a bustling center of trade and exports. However, the state does produce and export a variety of goods and commodities that are shipped around the globe.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Hawaii’s top exports include food and agricultural products like coffee, macadamia nuts, cattle, seeds, and fruit along with transportation equipment, chemicals, machinery, and more recently expanding exports in areas like renewable energy products.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the major exports flowing out of Hawaii, looking at key export industries, top export destinations, data and statistics on the total value of exports, and recent trends shaping what Hawaii sends abroad.

Major Hawaiian Export Industries and Goods

Food and Agriculture

Hawaii’s tropical climate allows it to produce and export high-value specialty crops like coffee, macadamia nuts, fruits, vegetables, nursery products, cattle, milk, and eggs. Its abundant fisheries and aquaculture operations also provide seafood like tuna, mahi-mahi, and shrimp.

In 2021, Hawaii exported over $100 million worth of edible fruits, nuts, peel of citrus fruit, and melons.

Transportation Equipment Manufacturing

Hawaii has a small but robust transportation equipment manufacturing industry focused mainly on ship and boat building. Major exports include civilian aircraft, engines, propulsion units, parts, and other transportation equipment, totaling around $150 million in 2021.

The state’s skilled workforce and proximity to Asia make it an ideal location for this specialized manufacturing.

Petroleum and Coal Products

Although Hawaii imports most of its energy, it does export some locally refined petroleum and coal products. In 2021, refined petroleum exports were valued at $73 million. Most of these fossil fuel exports likely consist of marine bunker fuels for oceangoing vessels that refuel in Honolulu or other Hawaiian ports.

Machinery

Hawaii exported $64 million worth of machinery like computers, engines, pumps, and industrial parts/tools in 2021. Companies involved in repairing and maintaining aircraft, ships, agricultural equipment, etc. contribute to these machinery exports.

Chemical Manufacturing

Exports of soaps, lubricants, waxes, essential oils, and various chemical products from Hawaii totaled $26 million in 2021. The state’s small chemical industry largely focuses on manufacturing specialty chemicals derived from local agricultural productions.

Top Destinations for Hawaiian Exports

As an isolated island chain in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii relies heavily on exporting its goods to generate revenue. The state’s top export destinations highlight both Hawaii’s geographic proximity to major Asian markets as well as strong trade relationships with mainland U.S. states.

Mainland United States

The majority of Hawaii’s exports are shipped to other states in the U.S. In 2021, the mainland U.S. received $1.3 billion worth of goods from Hawaii, making up 57% of the state’s total exports. California imported the most from Hawaii at $359 million, largely consisting of fruits and nuts.

Other top mainland destinations include Washington, Arizona, Oregon, and Nevada.

Asia-Pacific Region

Asian countries have robust trade partnerships with Hawaii thanks to proximity across the Pacific. Strong economic growth in Asia also boosts demand for imported food and agricultural items that Hawaii provides. In 2021, 43% of Hawaii’s exports went to Asia-Pacific markets valued at $995 million.

The top Asian importers of Hawaiian goods include:

  • Japan – $287 million
  • South Korea – $122 million
  • China – $119 million
  • Taiwan – $104 million

Popular exports to Asia include fish and seafood, fruits and nuts, processed foods, bark and wood pulp, and live animals.

Emerging Markets

Hawaii is also expanding exports to developing regions as their economies and middle classes rapidly grow. For instance, there is increasing demand in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa for premium Hawaiian agricultural items and seafood.

Though only a small portion of total exports for now, emerging markets provide an opportunity to further diversify Hawaii’s export economy.

Total Value and Data on Hawaiian Exports Over Time

Hawaii’s exports have seen steady growth over the past few decades. According to statistics from the US Census Bureau, the total value of Hawaiian exports in 2020 reached $795 million, up over 50% from 2000. Some key facts about Hawaii’s exports include:

  • The top exporting industry is agriculture, making up over 30% of total exports. Key agriculture exports include coffee, macadamia nuts, fruits, vegetables, and nursery products.
  • Other major export industries are food manufacturing, transportation equipment manufacturing, and miscellaneous manufactured commodities.
  • The top destination for Hawaiian exports is Japan, receiving over 30% of total exports. Other major partners are Canada, Korea, China, and Taiwan.
  • Exports to Asia have been steadily rising, with the region now accounting for over 60% of Hawaii’s overseas shipments.

Analyzing the export data trends shows interesting shifts in Hawaii’s exporting landscape:

  • In 2000, sugar and pineapple were still major exports, reflecting Hawaii’s agricultural history. As production declined, these dropped off the export slate.
  • Exports of food preparations, instruments, and chemicals have risen to take a larger share of overseas shipments.
  • The overall value of agricultural exports has held relatively steady from 2000-2020. However growth areas like coffee, macadamia nuts and nursery products have offset declines in sugar and pineapple.

The 2020 dip seen in data is likely due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on manufacturing and shipping operations. However, Hawaii’s exports recovered to pre-pandemic levels by 2021. Optimistically, total export values could reach $1 billion by 2025 if current growth rates persist.

Understanding export trends helps Hawaii strategically develop industries that leverage overseas demand. Nurturing growth of in-demand exports like tropical crops, value-added food products, and specialty manufactures will be key to continuing expansion of the state’s export portfolio.

Recent Trends and Developments

Expanding Renewable Energy Exports

Hawaii has seen tremendous growth in renewable energy production and exports over the past decade. The state has set ambitious goals to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045 across all islands. As of 2021, Hawaii produced over 35% of its electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.

A major export is solar energy. Hawaii exported over 270 gigawatt-hours of solar power to other states in 2021. Solar farm projects on Maui and Oahu have added greatly to renewable capacity. For example, the Waipio Solar project on Oahu exports as much as 50 megawatts at peak production.

Wind power is also growing. Hawaiian Electric has contracted with wind farm developers to export wind energy. One project on Molokai is expected to export 200 megawatts when complete. Geothermal and biomass plants also export modest amounts of electricity.

As Hawaii expands renewable projects to reach its 2045 clean energy goal, experts project energy exports could triple in the next 5-10 years. This would benefit Hawaii’s economy while helping other states access clean power.

Growth in High-Technology Exports

Hawaii’s technology industry has seen rapid expansion, with tech exports becoming a key economic driver. Total Hawaii high-tech exports were over $250 million in 2021, a 30% jump from five years prior.

A major source is astronomy and space technology. Hawaii hosts some of the world’s most advanced ground-based telescopes and observatories. These generate enormous datasets used by researchers globally.

The undersea fiber optic cables also make Hawaii a strategic hub for transferring huge volumes of scientific data.

Other growing tech exports include optics, sensors, navigation equipment, and communications gear from Hawaii’s small but mighty defense contractor sector. For example, companies like Visidyne develop specialized surveillance and reconnaissance devices for export to allied militaries.

The University of Hawaii also contributes by licensing a wide range of technologies to global partners. Licenses for UH bioengineering inventions, advanced materials, ocean equipment and health devices have become major exports.

With support from state initiatives, Hawaii’s tech sector seems primed for even faster export growth in fields like astronomy, renewable energy, defense tech and biotechnology.

Conclusion

Hawaii may be a small state, but it continues to export hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods abroad each year across a range of industries like food and agriculture as well as manufactured products in transportation and machinery.

Understanding what Hawaii exports provides insights into key parts of its economy and how the state participates in global trade and commerce.

While tourism and the service sector dominate economically, exported goods still remain an important component that underpins livelihoods and connects Hawaii to the wider world.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts