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Growth & Jobs | Starbucks to Help Local Coffee Farmers

Published:Thursday | July 27, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda has sought to assure coffee farmers that the introduction of Starbucks to Jamaica will be good for the local industry.

Starbucks is expected to open its first store on the island in Montego Bay, St James, later this year. The company and local licensee Caribbean Coffee Baristas Limited have plans to roll out a further 14 stores in Jamaica by 2020.

Samuda recently met with representatives from Starbucks and Caribbean Coffee Baristas in Montego Bay to discuss the roll-out and the company's plans for local coffee farmers, building on the company's history of ethically sourcing arabica coffee from Jamaica for more than 40 years.

During that meeting, Starbucks representatives acknowledged the high quality of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee and committed to working with local coffee farmers to implement systems to increase productivity and yields, while also increasing compliance to international standards.

"I am impressed with the company's commitment to the well-being of local farmers. They have told us that they will be working with not just the farmers who supply them, but the wider coffee-farming community," said Samuda.

The company currently sells Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee as a 'Starbucks Reserve' product, which, due to limited supply, is only available for a few months of the year in 2,000 of Starbucks' high- end locations in the US and Canada.

... 'milk farmers will benefit too'

Samuda noted that the island's dairy farmers will also benefit from the investment as the company buys more milk than coffee.

"Starbucks has also committed to using locally made furniture in its stores, so this really is a win-win situation all around. It's great for Jamaica and it's great for Starbucks," said Samuda.

Speaking after the meeting, Ross Goldstein, director for Starbucks operations in the Caribbean, said the company was excited about expanding its operations to Jamaica.

"As we get ready to open our first store in Jamaica, we are truly thankful for the opportunity to meet with Minister Samuda and the warm welcome we have received from many across this beautiful country," Goldstein said. "We look forward to working together to build on our shared commitment to creating opportunities for Jamaica's coffee-growing communities, in particular through CAFE Practices, our global, ethical-sourcing programme."