Mon | Dec 18, 2017

New coffee craze - Jamaicans urged to produce more for Chinese market

Published:Monday | November 20, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Niu Qingbao (right), Chinese ambassador to Jamaica, in discussion yesterday with Karl Samuda, minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries at the inaugural Coffee Industry Symposium at the Chinese Benevolent Association in St Andrew.

China's huge population and ready-made market can potentially absorb all the coffee Jamaica produces, says Chinese ambassador to Jamaica, Niu Qingbao.

The Chinese diplomat said that even though the Japanese have done a good job importing Jamaican coffee over the past decades, he was sure Jamaica could do with an even larger market for the product, pointing to his own country as a massive potential market.

"I want to direct your attention to China," Niu said. "China is a rapidly expanding consumer of coffee and has imported by an annual rate of 46 per cent from 2011 to 2016. And this year, up to September, China imported almost 50 per cent more than last year."

Speaking at the inaugural Coffee Industry Symposium at the Chinese Benevolent Association yesterday, under the theme 'AGRIHOPE: The Rebirth of Jamaican Coffee', Niu pointed out that while the Chinese market was very big, it was not large enough on a per-capita basis when compared with the consumption of coffee in the United States. He wants that changed.

Jamaican coffee farmers and exporters, the ambassador said, should consider tapping into China's mushrooming middle class.

China's social and economic landscape shows that coffee consumption will top US$50 billion in the next 10 years, Niu asserted.

"It is expected that by 2025, Chinese consumption of coffee and the beans only will be around US$50 billion. So where is Jamaica in China? Up to now, it's negligible," Niu said.

"Chinese import of Jamaican coffee from 2011 to 2016 grew by an annual rate of 26 per cent, only about half of the total Chinese imports. So there are a lot more things to do," he noted.

He said that the Chinese were well aware of Jamaica's Blue Mountain coffee, noting that it was a big brand in his country.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com