Starting this year, January 9 will be celebrated as Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) Coffee Day in Japan and Jamaica, as legislated by the Japanese government and declared by The Governor-General, respectively.
In a press launch held on Friday (January 4, 2019) at the Jamaica Promotions Corporation Headquarters, the Hon. Daryl Vaz, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (representing the Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries) stated that “January 9, 2019 will mark a historic occasion, as we commence the recognition of this day as Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day both in Jamaica and Japan – our largest market for coffee!” The Minister highlighted that data for 2017/2018 revealed that Japanese market consumed an average of 70% of the 264,500 boxes of coffee exported from Jamaica valuing US$9.4 million.
Echoing similar sentiments in a message that was read on his behalf, His Excellency Hiromasa Yamazaki, Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, stated that many Japanese consider the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee as the king of all coffees. In speaking about the Japanese coffee market, he said, “when it comes to coffee consumption, typical Japanese drinks 350 cups annually, thus we the Japan population of approximately 130 million are said to consume the largest quantity of coffee among Asian countries.” He also emphasized that legislating and celebrating Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day in Japan will “strengthen the bilateral relations and friendships between Japan and Jamaica.”
January 9 commemorates the day when the first large shipment of 1,000 bags of JBM coffee was exported from Jamaica to Japan in 1967, thereby initiating the cordial relationship between both countries regarding the product.
The press launch also featured the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by key local partners- Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Jamaica Coffee Exporters Association (JCEA) and the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA). Mr. Norman Grant, Chairman JCEA, stated that “the signing of the MOU underpins the rebuilding of the coffee industry…its strategic repositioning and the refreshing of the brand globally.”
The parties have committed to executing a 5-year strategic plan to bolster the promotion, production and export of the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee. It is also their long-term drive to stimulate the recognition of JBM Coffee among millennials and coffee connoisseurs worldwide, to increase the production of a range of value-added products and ultimately to expand the JBM coffee market share globally.
JAMPRO’s President, Ms. Diane Edwards, reaffirmed the organization’s dedication to revitalizing the coffee industry. “As the government’s export and investment agency, we are eager to see more coffee growing and we are eager to see the increased export of coffee.”
Edwards added that it is the priority of the partners “to get every one of those 4.3 million tourists to know that they are coming to the home of the best coffee in the world and that they must not leave Jamaica without at least having sampled it and even better, having bought a couple of gifts to take home to their friends and families.”
Minister Vaz highlighted that while it is a priority of the Jamaican Government to increase coffee productivity, “there is no disputing that our industry is at a crossroads and that innovative, long-term solutions are needed to put our industry back on the path it was years ago.” He noted that a key aspect of charting the way forward is to “expand value-added production that will ensure a sustainable Jamaican coffee industry and contribute, ultimately, to a sustainable agricultural sector.”
While Japan celebrates Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Day on January 9, Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora, as well as other coffee lovers across the globe are being encouraged to celebrate with a cup of authentic Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee and to create an online and offline buzz around the high-premium luxury product.
The Jamaica Promotions Corporation’s (JAMPRO) mission is to drive economic development through growth in investment and export. JAMPRO is an Agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.