JIS News

A 13-member team of coffee importers from the Association of Japanese Importers of Jamaica Coffee (AJIJC) is currently in the island touring several coffee factories to examine the integrity of the facilities and ensure the quality of the coffee exported to that country.
Speaking with JIS News, at a cocktail reception for the visiting delegation at the Terra Nova Hotel on June 30, Chairman of the Coffee Industry Board (CIB), Howard Mitchell, explained that the visit was important as Japanese importers face several challenges including a decline in export quantities of coffee from Jamaica and concerns from other exporting countries about contaminants entering Japan.
He stated that the visit, the second since the AJIJC was established, gave the CIB an opportunity to explain what had happened to the Jamaican coffee grower and exporter over the last four years because of the ravages of the weather and impress on them the care used in processing, “because Japan have become so sensitive to the integrity of foods imported into the country they will not accept any pesticide residue or contaminants. We have had to show them the steps that the Coffee Industry Board has taken to establish a laboratory to test all coffee leaving Jamaica for Japan to show them that our coffee has the highest integrity.”
Chairman of AJIJC, Tatsushi Ueshima, said “the aim of the Association since its inception since 1981 was to preserve and enhance the reputation of Jamaican coffee as well as creating new consumption within the country through collaboration.” He also had high praise for the CIB and other stakeholders in the industry who strive to create a good product.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, in his address to the gathering stated that the coffee industry faced several challenges including the cyclical hurricane period.
He stressed however that it was important that the Jamaican brand of coffee be protected and so the new board of the CIB had received a new mandate to, “look at how we can (not just) preserve the integrity of the brand but how we can expand, where we can expand our premium Blue Mountain product and our non-Blue Mountain product,” he said.
He added that increased investment in coffee is critical as a standard has been set and had to be maintained. Therefore creative strategies would have to be implemented and used to ensure proper content and quality, along with branding and positioning in the marketplace, Dr. Tufton said.
Mr. Mitchell disclosed that the CIB was in discussion with Japan for a better price for the exported high-end Blue Mountain brand and for the lower priced ‘high mountain’ coffee.
Explaining the need for a price increase the CIB Chairman said last year the total revenue from coffee was US$32 million, “but that is not good enough. You can’t have 9,000 farmers living off $32 million so that’s important to us even though that made it the second largest revenue earner in agriculture,” he said.
Managing Director of Mavis Bank Coffee Factory, Senator Norman Grant, said as Jamaican coffee is “king” it is important that the country maintains that standard. “We are committed to ensuring that we keep the high quality, ensuring supplies and whatever commitment we make with that market is kept,” he said.
Senator Grant pointed out that against the background of the Japanese banning imported coffee from another country he was comfortable that they had great faith in the competence of the CIB. “They have looked at the whole issue of traceability, pesticide residue and quality specification and I think they have confidence in what we are doing,” he told JIS News.
The Japanese team is in the island from June 30 to July 2 to conduct discussions with the CIB on matters affecting the industry.
The AJIJC has played a significant role in providing assistance to the CIB in its expansion drives, restoration activities and marketing arrangements. It has spearheaded the promotion of Blue Mountain coffee to its own target markets and has contributed significantly to the premier position held by Jamaican coffee in general and Jamaica Blue Mountain (Jablum) coffee in particular, in the international marketplace.

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