Instead of raising grain-fed beef, Kukaiau Ranch Manager Doug raises grass-fed cattle, which dine on local grasses. Of course, there is a down side. Grass-fed cattle don’t grow as fast or as big as grain-fed beef. However, proponents argue that grass-fed cows are healthier and tastier. David S. De Luz, Sr., whose Toyota and Mazda dealerships sell more than $100 million worth of cars each year, has put $2 million into a formerly bankrupt Pa’auilo slaughterhouse. The car dealer turned cattle baron who owns the 10,000-plus acre Kukaiau Ranch, plans to make Hawaii Big Island Beef a premium grass-fed brand for consumers who want red meat but don’t want the growth hormones, pesticides and antibiotics that normally go along with it. Of course, many consumers are willing to pay more for beef that doesn’t come with what they see as unwanted additives. De Luz hopes that by tapping into the growing market for additive-free beef, the price ranchers get for grass-fed cattle on the Big Island will be able to compete with the price they receive for cattle shipped to the mainland. One way to make raising grass-fed cattle more competitive–branding. Like Kona coffee or Maui onions, De Luz plans to capitalize on the allure of the Aloha State and sell it back to mainland consumers. His cattle will not only be born on the Big Island, they will be raised and slaughtered there, too. The big ranchers are doing well despite a litany of potentially catastrophic problems, including environmental regulation, mad cow fears, taxes and land-use issues, foreign trade, mainland weather and rising fuel costs. The American demand for beef is up about 25 percent in the past three or four years. Jill Mattos and Kukaiau Ranch Manager Doug allow Grant Kawasaki to visit the ranch and inspect the cattle.