After years of decline, one of Hawaii's oldest and largest industries came to a close Dec. 12 when the state's last sugar mill shuttered.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.'s Puunene factory in Maui received its final harvest with an audience of hundreds of current and former employees and community members in attendance.

Sugar has been big business on the Islands since the 1800s. At its peak in the 1930s, the state churned out 1 million tons annually and once accounted for 20% of the sugar consumed in the country. Consolidation, competition from abroad and environmental issues gradually shrank the sugar industry in Hawaii until just one mill remained.  

Alexander & Baldwin, the mill's parent company, announced the closure in January after reporting a nearly $30 million operating loss for agribusiness in 2015. The company plans to convert its 36,000-acre property into diversified agriculture.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI