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Friday, March 18, 2011

What's a Kumquat?

Overnight, we received a Meebo question from a patron inquiring about the average amount of kumquats exported from Hawaii. Now, when I read this question, the first thing I thought was “What in the world is a kumquat?” Before I even started trying to figure out how many of them were exported from Hawaii to other countries, I had to find out what they were.

Kumquats are native to East Asia and are in the same family as citrus fruits. About the size of large olives or small plums, they are bright orange-yellow in color. They’re round or oval in shape, and the taste ranges from sweet to mildly acidic. Actually, they look a lot like tiny oranges. Kumquats can be eaten in a variety of ways. They can be cooked, candied, canned, made into preserves, and used in salads. The most common way to eat them, though, is to simply eat them whole and raw.

I’ve consulted several sources, and it appears that Hawaii is not a big exporter of kumquats. In fact, I was unable to locate any hard facts concerning either the harvesting or exporting of kumquats from the state. This leads me to believe that if they are exported, then the amount is likely so small, the government doesn’t keep separate records of them. I contacted a librarian at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who confirmed my conclusion. Sorry, Meebo Patron, if that wasn’t the answer you were hoping for.

Hawaii may not be a big kumquat exporter, but they do export other types of fruit. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the data for 2008 indicates that Hawaii exported $43.5 million dollars’ worth of fruit, juice, and other fruit products to other countries that year.

University of Hawaii at Manoa
National Agricultural Statistics Service
Credo Reference

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