Marley Coffee opens door to new distribution contracts
Balram Vaswani, managing director of Kingston-based Marley Coffee Limited, says the company expects former distributors to sign new agreements for sale of the product under licence.
In mid-2016, the brand owned by Jamaican companies 56 Hope Road Music Limited and Hope Road Merchandising LLC cut ties with Jammin Java Corp, based in the United States, which marketed its products for around four years.
The American company was sued by the brand owners successfully for copyright infringement over non-payment of related licensing fees.
"All companies which previously had agreements with Jammin Java will have to sign new agreements with 56 Hope Road Merchandising, which include Mother Parkers, Marley Coffee UK, Marley Coffee Chile, and negotiations are already in final stages," Vaswani told Gleaner Business on Monday.
"There was never a problem with how Marley Coffee was marketed before, but speaking from a Jamaican standpoint, it would be best done to focus on 3,000 to 5,000 'points of presence' rather that 15,000 - which Jammin was on par to be in that many stores - and to work with key partners that have invested in the brand like Dicala, Mother Parkers, Scharf Austria, Krogers and Whole Foods, who have all supported us from day one."
Vaswani said the Marley Coffee Estate in Chepstowe, Portland, is operational. In 2016, the farm produced 200 boxes of Blue Mountain cherry coffee.
Marley Coffee is otherwise supplied with beans by partner Coffee Traders Limited, he said.
Former distributor Jammin Java struggled for profitability over its lifetime, often swapping common stock in settlement of debt.
Arising from a June judgment by a California District Court in the United States, Jammin Java is expected to pay out nearly US$2.46 million for trademark infringement to the two Marley family-controlled companies.
The award amounted to full gross revenue from Marley Coffee products sold by the American company over a six-month period when product was said to have been traded without licence.