Jamaica seeks bigger share of EU coffee market
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith (second left) speaks with (from left) Deodat Maharaj, executive director of Caribbean Export Development Agency; Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Coffee Exporters' Association; and Dr Norman Dunn, minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, at yesterday's launch of the European Union coffee export project at the foreign affairs ministry.(Photo: Karl Mclarty)

MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has given the thumbs up to a joint effort between regional and local partners to increase Jamaica's coffee export into the huge European Union (EU) market.

Senator Johnson Smith told the launch of the initiative Thursday that she welcomed the collaborative project between Jamaica and the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA), aimed at enhancing the export competitiveness of local coffee within the EU, under the theme “Building Strategic Partnerships to Support Jamaica's Post-COVID Recovery and Resilience” by 2024.

“Europe, with its large consumer base of approximately 450 million people, holds strong prospects as a new and important coffee export market for Jamaica,” she told the hybrid event at her new ministry building in downtown Kingston.

She said that current data indicates that Europe accounted for 33 per cent of global coffee consumption in 2020/21, amounting to an estimated 3.244 million tons of the beverage, which makes it the largest coffee market in the world and, therefore, the one with the greatest potential for entry.

She also noted that, currently, approximately only 10 per cent of Jamaica's export of Blue Mountain Coffee goes into Europe.

“The ministry has therefore responded to the strong desire of the JCEA (Jamaica Coffee Exporters' Association) and JACRA (Jamaica Commodities Regulatory Authority) to expand Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee exports to the EU, and to learn more about the market conditions and requirements, and thus the partnership with Caribbean Export [Agency] in this effort,” she said.

She pointed out that CEDA has already proposed a two-phase approach to assistance needed to accommodate the project. The first phase is expected to focus on an analysis of the EU coffee market, including related market entry requirements, as well as an analysis of the market penetration strategies of other major coffee exporters to the union.

Following the completion of the first phase of the project, she said, it is envisaged that the second phase will focus on developing a targeted marketing strategy for the market.

According to CEDA Executive Director Deodat Maharaj, the market study aspect of the project is a collaborative effort on the part of the foreign ministry, through the Embassy of Jamaica and Mission to the EU in Brussels, to expand exports and create jobs and opportunities for Jamaicans.

It is also being supported by local public entities, including Jamaica Promotions (Jampro), JACRA and the JCEA.

He also noted that the key driver for the work of CEDA is trade expansion under the CARIFORUM-European Union Economic Partnership, which has been a vehicle for trade and development cooperation since 2008.

This joint plan with Jamaica to execute the project, over the period 2021-24, will focus on three strategic pillars, namely: (1) export development and promotion to increase private sector competitiveness; (2) strengthen investment promotion; and (3) provide targeted support to services as the next frontier in Caribbean business.

Chris Docherty, head of Windward Commodities, a regionally based commodities marketer which is the consultant for the project, explained that his company will start discussions early with stakeholders. He said that this was necessary to meet a timeline to produce a draft proposal of how the partners will engineer the introduction and expansion of the export of Jamaican coffee to European countries, by the end of June.

He said that the company has already started the first phase of the project, and will be making contact with stakeholders over the next few weeks, with the intention to furnish a draft proposal in May.

“We will come to a final proposal and recommendations by the end of June, with collaboration with all stakeholders. So there will be a draft which we will discuss before we make the final recommendations,” he said.

Other speakers at the launch were: Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce Dr Norman Dunn; President of the JCEA Norman Grant; Ambassador Sheila Sealy Monteith, permanent secretary in the foreign ministry; and Ambassador Symone Betton Nayo of the Embassy of Jamaica and Mission to the EU.

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver..com

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