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Coffee producers urged to focus on production of high, low mountain grades

Published:Wednesday | October 4, 2017 | 1:37 PM

Stakeholders in the coffee industry are being urged to increase production of high and low mountain coffee to cushion the fallout from the downturn in prices for the premium brand Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee on the international market.

Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda yesterday said focus should now be placed on expanding production of these grades of coffee to replace imported low-grade coffee beans used to produce various blends of finished Jamaican coffee products on the market.

With Jamaica importing around 433 tonnes of green coffee beans each year, the agriculture minister says low and high mountain coffee can be used to substitute those imports.

Samuda says this will make the finished coffee blends more authentically Jamaican since all the coffee used would be grown in Jamaica.

Traditionally, coffee production in Jamaica has been centred on growing the premium Blue Mountain coffee.

However, with international prices plummeting and Japanese traders, who are the country's main buyers, stockpiling coffee farmers of the premium Jamaican brand are now facing a dilemma in finding a market to sell the commodity at a fair price.

Jamaica produced some 230,000 boxes of premium Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee last year.

This is more than the approximately 160,000 boxes produced the previous year.

About 70 per cent of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is sold to Japan, with the remaining 30 per cent sold to markets in Europe, the United States and China.