Business

Compliant with US food laws, Coffee Roasters expects export boost

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2014    

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COFFEE Roasters of Jamaica should see a boost in sales to North America now that it is fully compliant with US Food laws.

What's more, the certification will enable it to increase exports to Europe.

Presently, the company, which roasts and packages ground coffee and whole beans, exports bring in an estimated $30 million annually from about 20 per cent of its total production, according to Mark Fletcher, managing director of the company.

"If we didn't do it (get certification), chances are we could no longer sell to the US," said Fletcher. "With the FSMA regulations, the US got more strict."

It was either become HACCP compliant, or lose business.

"We can target some of the countries that we haven't been in before," said Fletcher. "Some of the these countries, require the standards that we now meet."

New requirements under the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), requires that all processed foods entering the country must be tested by an accredited laboratory. Consequently, Coffee Roasters had to implement the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control points (HACCP) at the factory.

The Kingston-based factory started the process to become complaint a few years ago and had to do physical upgrades, make a number of changes to the factory, get audited by an external firm and hire consultants.

Just getting onto the factory floor, which was recently sealed with a protective coating, now requires a series of checkpoints -- including a hand-washing station.

And while the roasting fills the air with the rich coffee aroma, the beans are being passed by magnets and over destoners to extract metallic and non-metallic objects from the product.

Even moving packaged material will require plastic pallets instead of wooden ones to eliminate the possibility of splinters getting into the product.

Fletcher figures that it cost about $5 million to put the systems in place.

From time to time, the FDA conducts audits of businesses that export to the US, and the FSMA also requires exporters to share their food safety plans with the FDA upon request; write and implement food safety protocols to mitigate potential hazards; and implement acceptable traceability and recall mechanisms.

HACCP is defined as a systematic preventative approach to food safety and allergenic, chemical and biological hazards in production processes that can cause the finished products to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level.

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