The sixth anniversary of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 will coincide with the 70th year when the first direct shipment of Jamaica’s world renowned luxury coffee was made to Japan. That first shipment was executed by the late Keble Munn, founder of the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory in March 1953.
This year’s rendition of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day will be celebrated under the theme “Brewed Perfection”. The celebration continues throughout the month of January 2024 with a number of special events locally and internationally.
Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day was first introduced by the All Japanese Importers of Jamaican Coffee (AJIJC) in Japan in 2018 under the theme “Jamaica Blue Mountain, the King of Coffees and the Winning Bean”
Chairman of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA) and CEO and Managing Director of the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory, Norman Grant, in his message marking the day, notes that the celebration is taking place in collaboration with the industry’s 5,000 coffee farmers, the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), the Ministries of Agriculture, Tourism and Foreign Affairs and the AJIJC.
“On behalf of the membership of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA), and our 5,000 coffee farmers, I wish you a Happy Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day, as we celebrate the sixth observation in collaboration with the Association of Japanese Importers of Jamaican Coffee (AJIJC), the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and our other local and global stakeholders, including our overseas missions,” Grant said.
He noted that the industry was currently focusing on marketing expansion simultaneously with an expansion in production which is aimed at increasing the production of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee and Jamaica High Mountain coffee which was geared towards growing from the current 270,000 boxes to 450,000 boxes per annum over the next four years, through an investment of $1 billion in the coffee sector over the next five years, Grant stated.
He added that those efforts should help to increase revenues from Jamaica’s coffee industry from over a weighted average of US$25 million per annum, over the last 15 years, to US$50 million per annum and an incremental five per cent annual growth rate, over the next 10 years.
“This will create an industry with annual sales of US$100 million and will significantly create/return the coffee industry to consistent profitability and contribute to improving the economic prospects of our 5,000 farmers, thousands of farm families, and our coffee business”.
Grant observed that JACRA had projected an amount of 300,000 boxes for the 2023/24 crop, but due to adverse rainy weather conditions during the last two months, which was during the peak of the crop, it is estimated that losses incurred by the industry at the farm gate have amounted to a minimum of 50,000 boxes at a farm gate value of $480 million of crop loss.
This was compounded by the loss of trees resulting in the future loss of cherry berries, as well as the high cost of transportation and other production costs directly related to the poor infrastructure (roads) in the Jamaica Blue Mountain region spanning the parishes of Portland, St Thomas, and St Andrew, he stated. Grant further explained that such capital investment would benefit both the Jamaica Blue Mountain and High Mountain coffee industry and by extension the country, “through both import substitution, job creation, and the development of the rural and national economies.”
The JCEA chairman called on the government and its agencies to come up with a programme for the development and maintenance of the road infrastructure in the Jamaica Blue Mountain region, “which will contribute to it achieving its potential to earn in excess of one hundred million US dollars (US$100 million) in foreign exchange annually”.
Grant also used the occasion to ask that the Ministry of Agriculture, as a matter of priority, immediately implement the Crop Restoration and Establishment Programme (CREP) valuing a billion dollars over five years, to release seedlings, fertilizers, chemicals, and other inputs to Jamaican coffee farmers, as a part of the programme to rebuild/resuscitate the coffee industry.
Among the activities marking Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day this year include:
A newspaper supplement; radio interviews by the JCEA Chairman; Coffee Tasting and Presentation at Café Blue on Constant Spring Road; the Launch of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Festival and Exhibition at Devon House; Discounts and Tastings at Jablum Coffee House at 2 Oxford Road; Tasting of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee at the Norman Manley and Donald Sangster International Airports by JACRA, Jamaica Standard Products and JABLUM; Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day celebration at Jamaica’s Consular General in Miami; Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day celebrations at the Embassy of Jamaica in Tokyo, Japan; and Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day celebrations in Beijing, China.
“This year’s celebration takes on a particular significance considering the number of milestones that will be observed by our trading partners, the JCEA membership, and industry stakeholders. These include the achievement of the 100th Anniversary of the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited (MBCF), having been established in 1923,” he added.
Continuing, Grant stated that “Japan has grown to be Jamaica’s largest importer of coffee, importing well over 70 per cent of our production on an annual basis. With coffee being our first ‘ambassador’ to Japan, this year Jamaica and Japan will celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries, led by our ambassador in Tokyo, HE, Shorna-Kay Richards. I take the opportunity therefore, on behalf of the association, to congratulate the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited for this noted achievement and to celebrate this major landmark with the people of both Japan and Jamaica and all stakeholders,” he pointed out.
Grant was upbeat about the increased production of Blue Mountain Coffee in light of the growth in production from 240,000 boxes in 2021/22 to 285,000 boxes in 2022/23, increasing by over 17 per cent.