JIS News

KINGSTON — The first of five batches of green bean Jamaican coffee, with an approximate sale value of US$425,000, will be shipped to China soon.

The shipment, comprising 16,500 kilograms of Blue Mountain Coffee, should have left Jamaica Tuesday April 5, but has been delayed, and is now expected to arrive in China in early May, a Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries source told JIS News.

The arrangement to supply Jamaican coffee to the Chinese market stems from an agreement, under which Zhejiang Dunn’s River Import Export Company Limited purchased a total of one thousand 70-kilogram barrels of Jamaican coffee, at an estimated cost of US$2 million.

The provision of the coffee was formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Agriculture Ministry, Coffee Industry Board (CIB) and Chinese company, Hangzhou Coffee and Western Foods, in July last year. Zhejiang Dunn’s River Import Export Company Limited is the corporate body formed to handle the commercial transactions of Hangzhou Coffee and Western Foods.

Speaking at a press conference at the CIB’s warehouse in Kingston, Dr. Tufton said this shipment is a major milestone for Jamaica, representing the most significant quantity of Jamaican green beans to be shipped to China, and a demonstration of the strengthening of Jamaica’s business partnership with the Chinese marketplace.

“It is an important milestone for coffee, but it’s also an opening for pursuing other very critical products that we have, towards improving our trading arrangements with that very large and growing market,” Dr. Tufton said.

He noted that based on the challenges being faced by the coffee industry, there is need to diversify and to restructure the industry.

“We take the position – the Government, the CIB and the other stakeholders – that it is in the best interest of the industry to look at other markets to diversify. We are looking at the United States market, we are looking at the European market and, of course today, we are speaking about an entry into the Chinese marketplace,” he said.

He noted that supplying the Chinese with premium Jamaican coffee, will give the country opportunities to expand coffee production, which has implications for farmers and marketing companies, in terms of export earnings.

“It’s going to make us less vulnerable to one single marketplace, it’s going to open up relationships with other markets for other products and, hopefully over time, it will build the earning capacity of all the stakeholders involved,” he said, noting that the Japanese market currently enjoys 90 per cent of  Blue Mountain Coffee exports.

Chairman of the CIB, Howard Mitchell, said this shipment is symbolic and a commitment to market diversification.

“We hope it means a new feature for the coffee industry, and that it will also signal the opening up of the market in China to other Jamaican products in a very serious way,” he said.

Director of Communications and Public Relations at the Ministry, Cecil Thoms, told JIS News that the CIB will be sending a Quality Assurance Inspector to China for one year, to ensure that Jamaica’s brand is not infringed and that there is greater level of control, in relation to quality assurance and copyright issues.

Under the agreement, Hangzhou Coffee and Western Foods are contracted to market and represent Jamaican coffee in China, starting with Blue Mountain Coffee.

Dr. Tufton said Zhejiang Dunn’s River has committed to spend a minimum of US$960,000 on promotions and marketing, and will assist the CIB in its brand promotion efforts in China.

Dr. Tufton also led representatives of the CIB, Jamaica Freight and Shipping Company, Zhejiang Dunn’s River Import Export Company Limited and the Port Authority of Jamaica to view the loading of the container onto the vessel, followed by a tour of sections of the CIB warehouse.