The first formal meeting of papaya producers in Hawaii was held on November 13,1965, in the city of Hilo Hawaii. Approximately 150 producers; handlers; wholesalers; shippers; University of Hawaii and government officials met at the old Hilo Hotel. This was the inception of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, marking a milestone in the development of the papaya industry in Hawaii.

Organizers hoped to establish an organization of the papaya industry and not a marketing cooperative. Marketing, however, became one of the most serious problems of the papaya industry. Being subject to anti-trust laws came into discussions and led to consider the idea of becoming a Marketing Order. In May 1971 the papaya industry became a Federal Marketing Order, an entity of the United States Department of Agriculture.

In 1978, the HPIA was officially incorporated in the state of Hawaii as a non-profit organization to complement the Marketing Order and pursue its vision.

In the 1990s, with the unprecedented economic losses in papaya production due to the devastating papaya ringspot virus (PRSV), the development of the transgenic Rainbow was the focus of activity for the papaya industry.

With the inactivation of the Marketing Order in 2002, the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association exists to continue to promote the improvement of business conditions in the State of Hawaii for the papaya industry.