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Costco Eats: Taro Brand Poi

This posting is actually simply an update on today’s market price for Poi in Honolulu, but I decided to name it under “Costco Eats” since that’s where I usually buy my poi. Reason being, like many other food items sold in bulk, Costco is (usually) the cheapest on the island for poi.

Wait a minute, the “cheapest”? Well, the price of this 3.5 lb. bag of Taro Brand Poi at the Iwilei Costco was marked today at an AIG Bonus toppling $14.99 each. Man, this stuff is becoming more and more worth its weight in gold, I tell ya’.

It appears there’s currently no poi shortage, as there wasn’t any sign that said there was a limit. When there is a poi shortage, Costco only allows 1 bag per customer.

The Iwilei Costco didn’t carry the Taro Brand for a long time, since they had problems with customers literally fist-fighting over poi when there was a shortage. Whoah! Get this: someone swiped a bag from my mom’s shopping cart one time when she left it unattended at the Hawaii Kai Costco. The nerve!

Poi slowly crept up in price over the last couple of years, going quickly from $10.99 per 3.5 pound bag, to $13.99, to where it is now at $14.99 per bag.

Here’s the back of the bag, in case you wanna’ read the information provided on there…

I didn’t spot it on this visit, but Costco (both Hawaii Kai and Iwilei, not sure about the Kunia or Kapolei locations) used to stock the large bag of Hanalei brand poi, but I didn’t see it in the Iwilei store on this visit today. Only the Taro Brand.

When Costco did stock the Hanalei brand, it was even more expensive than Taro brand, going for over $20 per 3.5 lb. (or it could have been a little heavier than that) bag. Shamefully, I’ve never tried Hanalei brand as of this writing, but it looks like it’s much thicker than the taro brand, so it probably yields more poi than taro brand when done mixing water into it to thin it down. At least, that’s what I’m guessing.

One day I’ll do a “Poi Shootout”, pitting Taro Brand against Hanalei, and whatever other brands out there I can find. Safeway, of all places, had a Poi brand I never seen before, but I forget the name. I’ll pick one up next time.

As for inventory, Costco still had about two-and-a-half cardboard tray boxes full of Taro Brand Poi in stock when I grabbed my bag around 12 noon.

Reason I bought Poi is that I’ll be making a new batch of Big Island Style Smoked Meat a little later, so gotta’ get da’ poi fo’ go wit’ dat. You know da’ rules.


Big Island Smoked Meat and Poi

Whoo, dat’ buggah’ look so ono!

Again, current price for Taro Brand Poi at the Iwilei Costco in Honolulu is $14.99 per 3.5 pound bag.

If you know of any retail supermarket selling Poi cheaper than Costco’s current rate, let us know so we can raid your “stash”. lol

If you operate a luau catering business or restaurant, the best route (as you know) is to buy poi by super-duper bulk directly from the HPC factory near Sand Island. There they sell poi in HUGE 25 pound bags (wow laulau, that’s a lot of POI!) at an over-the-counter retail price currently at $3.75 per pound . Even cheaper if you have an account with them to buy wholesale, like some businesses do.

I don’t even wanna’ THINK what poi is selling for on the mainland. Please, you folks living up there, spare us the pain!

No matter what the cost, with certain foods, such as the Big Island Smoked Meat, gotta’ get poi. Just gotta’.

22 thoughts on “Costco Eats: Taro Brand Poi

  • March 23, 2009 at 8:36 pm
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    Does anyone make their own poi? It’s mashed taro root, right? It seems like you might save money by making it from scratch.

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    • March 5, 2014 at 7:57 am
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      When I’m in Hawaii, I just buy poi at the market, Costco usually having the best price. But when on mainland (central CA) I make my own poi from taro bought at an Asian food market, when I can find it. It is much cheaper to make your own, & really very simple (steam/boil taro, peel, mash/blend – that’s it!). Am back in CA now, & having a hard time tracking down nice big kalo (taro) corms, suitable for making poi.

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      • August 4, 2014 at 2:08 pm
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        I’m in Cali and I’m really interested in wanting to make sure that your local market get Kalo/Taro. I have friends in the import/export business and I’m sure Samoa has Taro to ship! Contact me Uso

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  • March 24, 2009 at 10:40 am
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    Pomai, Living on the mainland I have no pain to spare for it not easy to get poi anyway.

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  • March 24, 2009 at 2:12 pm
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    There online Hawaiian Powderd Poi 3 oz. jar 22.00. Add water and heat and make 13.oz of poi from alohafriendsshop.com.

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  • March 24, 2009 at 2:21 pm
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    Oh dude I don’t like poi man. Living in Hawaii all of my life, I’ve only tasted poi once and it was sour and would probably taste like what I’d imagine cornstarch and water to taste like.

    This was at Hilton though.

    Is it normally sour? And if you’ve made taro yourself, do you flavor the taro before mashing it?

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    • March 5, 2014 at 8:01 am
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      Sour poi is favored by many, including myself. The sour taste comes from fermentation, & is evidence of good ‘pro-biotic’ content. Fresh poi is “sweet” – to get that nice sour taste you need to let it sit around for a few days at room temperature.

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      • October 2, 2016 at 9:32 am
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        Being native Hawaiian I love plain sour poi. It’s so ono. Aunty Caroline used to say that a true Hawaiian eats it with out sugar. I always laughed when she said that cuz she would always tell this to a lady friend. . Here comes the bamboo stick. Lol yummy it is hard to find it in Cali. But I know one place in Albany, California where there sale poi and poi gets shipped in every Wednesday for fresh poi. The place is called The Tokyo Fish market.”

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        • October 2, 2016 at 11:11 am
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          Jessie,

          As a part-Hawaiian myself (1/4th), I agree, DEFINITELY NO SUGAR ADDED TO POI! No can!

          You should try the Taro Brand Premium Frozen Poi, that comes as advertised, frozen, in a flat package “sealed for freshness”. I swear, when you reconstitute this buggah’ with water, it turns out almost as good as fresh poi you get locally here in Hawaii. Great stuff, and not bad in price, at about $7.00 locally, so it’s easy for your ohana to ship to you, even if it thaws out on the flight over.


           

           

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  • March 24, 2009 at 2:24 pm
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    Myriahs Polynesian Bazaar have powdered poi at 12.00 for 3.oz. It for homesick islanders living on the mainland. It may not be the same but better something than nothing as they say.

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  • March 24, 2009 at 11:03 pm
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    There was a company – The Poi Company – that had an extremely good freeze-dried poi. But they went out of business.

    You could make it by how many servings you wanted. It was ono and tremendous! Very true and good tasting. I hoped someone would have taken it over. But not.

    I’ll post a picture of the can that I have.

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  • March 24, 2009 at 11:32 pm
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    oh my oh my! that smoked meat look sooooo good. must be good with eggs and rice, ice cold beer, or anything. if you ever make a batch and get extra, i would buy a few pounds from you.

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  • March 25, 2009 at 3:25 am
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    grind, if you’re not a Poi fan, eggs and rice, or as a pupu with your favorite ice cold beer would absolutely be the next best choice to enjoy with smoke meat. Still, nothing can beat smoked meat with Poi, as the unique flavor and cool, smooth consistency of Poi acts as the perfect palate cleanser to the fatty, salty, robust flavor of the smoke meat. It’s absolutely da’ BEST like that.

    Nate, as Erica pointed out in a link, Honolulu Poi Company (HPC) currently manufactures and distributes what’s labeled as ‘Hawaiian POI Powder’. I have a 3 oz. container I bought from Daiei (DQ) of the stuff in my cabinet that I have yet to use. According to the instructions, you add 2 tablespoons of the POI powder to 1/2 cup of water and heat on stove or in microwave until smooth and incorporated. I’ll be featuring it later on this blog in my “POI Shootout” product comparo’ mega review.

    Kimo, See the reply I just wrote above to Nate. That’s product you mentioned at Mariah’s sounds like the same one I have. $12 up there, huh? That’s a considerable mark-up to Honolulu’s price, where I paid a little over $5 for the same size 3 oz. container at Daiei (DQ) <I still prefer calling them Daiei.

    Ricky, that’s perfectly fine with me. That means one less person at the store fighting for Poi when get one shortage! lol

    As for making my own Poi, shame to say I never have; not even as a child for a school excursion or project. Back when I was going through grade school, Hawaiian cultural preservation didn’t seem as popular in the education system as it is today. At least that I can remember.

    One day if I get my hands on a full root of genuine Hawaii-grown wetland taro (which for obvious reasons is scarce to find in most grocery stores), perhaps I’ll give it a try. My late grandmother handed down an heirloom Poi Pounder (hand-carved out of stone) to us. Guess I’d have to finally put that to use.

    Erica, whoah! $22 for that tiny 3 oz. powdered Poi container?! That’s 300% mark-up from Honolulu retail prices. I already feel “better” about the current $15 price for 56 oz. of FRESH Poi from Costco.

    Betty, the trend on this comment thread so far for Poi on the mainland seems limited to the powdered stuff, although I know there’s a few places on the west coast that fly in the fresh stuff.

    Norio, I can’t answer that, as it’s been a while since I’ve seen fresh-picked wetland taro root in our local retail markets in Honolulu. Not even at the Farmer’s Market. The taro that Tom Purdy of Taro Delight uses is a white dryland taro, which works for cooking applications and snack chips, but isn’t ideal for poi, both texture and flavor-wise.

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  • March 25, 2009 at 11:27 am
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    poi here .. is around $39 – bag in nyc :(

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  • March 25, 2009 at 12:35 pm
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    Pomai, found an another web Hawaiibounty.com powder poi 5.45 for 3 oz.

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  • March 25, 2009 at 5:55 pm
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    This is absolutely the world’s best blog. No kidding. You should be on the David Letterman show.

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  • March 26, 2009 at 11:59 am
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    Readed somewhere poi need to fermente for a day to that certain tangy taste so if it with powder poi I guess it the same.

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  • March 26, 2009 at 1:22 pm
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    Pacific Supermarket in San Francisco on Alemany Blvd. They got poi and laulau but it with purple sweet potato in it with fish and pork. Not sure of price but it not bad.

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    • March 5, 2014 at 8:03 am
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      Thanks for the tip! I live not too far from SF, so will check it out when in town next. Does this market sell the actual taro (kalo) corms as well, so that I can make my own?

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  • March 26, 2009 at 7:03 pm
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    Shelly, a sweet potato laulau sounds really ono. Never had one of those before. Probably a good mix with (just) pork for that super-savory/sweet combo.

    Amy, I indeed let my powdered poi preparation stand over a day to ferment, which did help texture, but not so much flavor. See the next post on that.

    Alvin Papa Al, big mahalo for the kind words. “World’s Best” huh? Wow! I’m turning red. lol

    Kimo, yeah I found some other sites that are selling the powdered stuff at much more down-to-earth prices. Again, see my new post featuring that product.

    Depesh, while that’s a hefty price to pay, the FACT that you can actually BUY fresh poi in NYC is still absolutely WILD! What store is this? Also, what brand is it? Taro Brand? As you might read in my new post about powdered Poi, even $40/bag may be worth it for the FRESH stuff.

    Reply

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