Industry players are again contemplating sending green or unroasted beans to China in an effort to offset reduced demand in Japan, the largest buying market for Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) coffee.
The source indicates that its a real possibility despite concerns about the Chinese market and the potential for unauthorised blending of beans.
“We have to try something,” added the source.
In 2011, the Coffee Industry of Jamaica (CIB) sent its first shipment of green beans to China. The CIB sent representatives to live in the country in order to streamline the supply chain. The deal signed with Zhejiang Dunn’s River Import and Export Company Limited, would handle the commercial transactions of the Hangzhou Coffee and Western Foods. The deal was met with ambivalence from some Japanese buyers who questioned the price at which the beans were sold to China. The deal with the major importer wasn’t continued after the initial two year attempt. But with the softening of the Japanese market the search for new markets are inevitable.As the industry can no longer avoid the world’s second largest economy.
Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee prices hit a high of roughly US$60 per pound this year for roasted beans amid increased demand and reduced supply.
Consumers however will find solace in knowing that producers are expecting prices to fall by as much as 25 per cent in the next two years. It will mean that the cheapest Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) in years whether from Jablum, Wallenford, Amber or any other brand.
The price fall is the result of an expected increased supply of beans on the market as farms return to full or near to full capacity. The increased supply will result in an overabundance on the market which will, at least in economic terms, reduce the price.
In anticipation of this price drop, brands including Jablum introduced a Premium Blend of coffee that incorporates 30 per cent JBM and 70 per cent regional balanced beans. Thus price conscious enthusiasts can buy a pound for as little as US$32 plus shipping.
Over the last few years, a confluence of factors affected the supply of the beans led by drought, fires, infertile farms and disease.
Over the last two years, roasters in Japan wanted the bulk of beans from Jamaica and were willing to pay anything for the luxury cup.
During that period, the price at the farm level jumped fivefold from US$20 to $100 per box of coffee as small farmers gained influence in price setting.