THE Coffee Industry Board says it will be cracking down on the sale of fake Blue Mountain coffee, particularly in the island's resort areas.
Coffee Industry Board Chairman Delano Franklyn did not give a specific date when the newly formed Brand Infringement and Enforcement Taskforce would begin its job of monitoring and protecting the world-famous brand, offering only that the raids will be conducted "before Christmas".
Local gift shops, supermarkets and craft markets are the main targets of the authorities, who say they expect that more of the counterfeit products will appear going into the festive season.
"We have numerous reports from persons staying at some of our hotels that the taste profile of coffee purported to be Blue Mountain coffee is different from the... taste to which they are accustomed," Franklyn said at a press conference at the Coffee Industry Board office in Kingston yesterday.
He said that the board has been receiving complaints that people, both here and abroad, have been "passing off" beans from various origins as Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, thus negatively impacting the brand.
Checks have also revealed that people have been misusing the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee trademark, trading in Blue Mountain coffee and importing the commodity without a licence.
Upon close inspection of the products that falsely claim to have been "roasted and packaged by small farmers in Portland, Jamaica," the Observer found that some of the beans were actually packaged in the United States, Spain, and as far away as Germany.
Individuals caught trading in coffee that has either been illegally imported, or which violates the registered Blue Mountain Coffee trademark, can be fined up to $600,000 or sentenced to six months in prison.
The Coffee Industry Board, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Coffee Marls Limited, owns the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee trademark.
In 2013, Jamaica's coffee production fell from more than 500,000 boxes annually, to just over 100 boxes due to the effects of a series of diseases and hurricanes.
Export earnings from the commodity have also fallen along with production. In the last two years alone, earnings fell by just under US$4 million, down from just over US$15.5 million in 2012.
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