Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON — Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pearnel Charles Jr, says Jamaica is seeking to increase production and expand the export base for Blue Mountain Coffee.

These include targeting markets such as the United States, which currently accounts for 20 percent of exports, he noted.

Japan is Jamaica’s largest importer of Blue Mountain Coffee, absorbing some 70 percent of exports, with Europe and the rest of the world importing about 10 percent.

Charles Jr was addressing a ceremony to celebrate Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee (JBMC) Day, on January 21.

The event includes virtual celebrations by the Consulate General of Jamaica in New York and the Consulate General of Japan in New York, along with representatives from the United States.

Charles Jr said that the quality of Blue Mountain Coffee remains incomparable.

“[It] is a leading brand that takes centre stage and is unmatched in quality and flavour profile,” he said.

He noted that production of the crop remains viable, despite challenges in the industry, such as declining production rates moving from a high output of 530,000 boxes in 2004 to 220,000 boxes in the 2021/2022 crop year.

“The cultivation and production of coffee has been a stable agricultural activity for Jamaica, generating foreign exchange earnings of up to US$17 million per year for the last three years. The industry is profitable and it translates to one that supports and improves the quality of lives of our coffee farmers and their families,” he pointed out.

JBMC Day was first observed on January 9, 2019 by Japan in recognition of the date when the largest consignment of coffee was shipped to the Asian country in 1967.

The day is a celebration of the world-famous Jamaican coffee brand and highlights the long-standing cooperation and friendship between Jamaica and Japan, of which the trade of the product has been a cornerstone since Jamaican coffee was first imported to Japan in the early 1950s.

“This speaks volumes; it indicates that throughout those years, our coffee has been constantly in demand [in Japan] in terms of quality,” Charles Jr said.

Furthermore, he said it is instructive to see that the relationship has now gone beyond commercial ventures into developmental activities, where Japan is also assisting in boosting the technical capacity of Jamaica’s farmers through initiatives such as eco-friendly coffee production.

“This is amazing in terms of really focusing on production of organic manure, which is going to help us in so many ways,” the Minister said.