Jamaica secures Japan's support for GI tag for Blue Mountain coffee

Jamaica secures Japan's support for GI tag for Blue Mountain coffee

BY DURRANT PATE
Observer business writer

Friday, February 28, 2020

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Jamaica has secured the support of Japan in its bid to obtain a geographical indication (GI) tag, which seeks to protect its luxury coffee brand, which has been hit by a spate of counterfeit marketers.


Jamaica's move to obtain a GI tag was boosted with the endorsement of Japan, which is the major partner for Jamaica in regard to the export of coffee beans. Jamaican coffee beans are world-renowned for their unique flavour but are under threat in particular the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee variant, which is being sold by counterfeit marketers, thus undermining its value.


Jamaica has sought and secured help from the Japan Coffee Roasters Association in its overseas lobby efforts for the GI tag, which is granted by the World Intellectual Property Organization. Last week Jamaica hosted a delegation from the association, which was the first official visit of such a Japanese delegation in the last 15 years.


Blue Mountain coffee is dependent on the geographical location for prime earnings. Obtaining the GI tag will increase the revenue obtained from the export of Jamaican coffee beans.

JAPANESE DELEGATION INVITED BACK TO JAMAICA


The Japanese officials were extended an invitation by Jamaica to celebrate Blue Mountain Coffee Day in the first month of 2021. Jamaica Coffee Exporters' Association, Jamaica Promotions Corporatin (Jampro) , and Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority are all now focused on obtaining the GI tag.


The GI tag helps a product by linking its specific features to the geographical location of its production. Thus, the product's reputation, qualities, and characteristics are associated with the place of origin, which will prove beneficial to Jamaica.


Jampro's President Dianne Edwards told guests at a welcome dinner hosted for the visiting team from Japan Coffee Roasters Association, that the pending GI registration would protect the integrity of the world-renowned Jamaican brands, and preserve their value internationally. She said that the GI tag is among a raft of initiatives, currently in the pipeline, to grow the island's coffee industry.


This includes the development of new coffee products and expanded production. She pointed out that the GI was critical, as it would map the areas and elevations that would qualify the coffee produced in Jamaica as genuine Blue Mountain Coffee.


“When people purchase a package labelled Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, we want them to enjoy the genuine amazing taste that it is known for,” Edwards explained. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.


In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Jamaica would benefit from the fact that, since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.

COUNTERFEIT COFFEE


Earlier this month, Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority informed the public that it would be teaming up with the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority and the Major Organised Crime Authority to undertake a major enforcement drive to blunt the pervasive distribution and sale of counterfeit coffee purported to be authentic Jamaican premium coffee brands Blue Mountain and High Mountain coffee.


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