What is the company doing to ensure Jamaica's success?
MARK MCINTOSH We focus significantly on varieties and processing methods to create differentiation and meet different market needs. There are different altitudes where coffee can be harvested and different ways it can be processed. We package coffee from particular areas, even within the Blue Mountains, focusing on what we call micro lots. This creates a unique story through different flavor profiles, and as we have access to vast amount of land, we can be creative. In terms of varieties, most of Jamaica's coffee is Arabica Typica, but there are other varieties grown here, such as Gesha. We also have experimental plots to test different varieties with varying soil types and climatic conditions.
How has the company performed since becoming a larger-scale producer?
JOHN O. MINOTT We are fully integrated and have expanded our ongoing network and increased the number of farmers we currently do business with. As well, we have a wider network of partnerships with other contracted farmers to provide coffee for us. As a result, we have increased our production and are also in process of improving some of our processing facilities to increase our production capacity.
What strategies and potential does the company have to diversify its portfolio of customers?
MM The group of people interested in Jamaican coffee is a set population that can afford this coffee. We target these customers with some of the strongest brands in the industry, including Jablum, Wallenford, and Mavis Bank. However, we also own coffee land beyond the Blue Mountain region, and that coffee helps us diversify our product range through lower prices. Over time, we might have to produce non-coffee products. For example, some of our farmers also produce coconuts and bananas, so there is diversification even within our farms. One such product is cocoa, and since there are several similarities between the markets for high-quality coffee and cacao, it is a medium-term plan for us.
JOM Apart from coffee, we have coffee liqueur, which has great potential. We have received great feedback from many of our hotels in Jamaica, so we have seen tremendous growth in that particular sector; hotels and offices use them as gifts. Moreover, we seek to diversify our coffee roasting options. We have gone into single-serve coffee, especially for the North American market. K-cup is Keurig, a little pod that makes one cup of coffee at one time, and we are the only ones in Jamaica to offer this at the moment. We also have five shops that sell directly to the tourist market, and we also have expanded into specialized supermarkets locally.
Are there other coffee makers interested in Jamaican coffee?
MM The biggest new interest is coming from China, but Japan is still the largest importer of Jamaican coffee. There have been new UK investors, though the best way to crack this market open is to get more interest from China. Chinese investors have expressed an interest in Jamaican coffee, and our job is to find the ideal Chinese partners to leverage that population.
How would you describe the company's efforts to ensure success in Jamaica?
JOM High Mountain coffee production at the moment is not the most attractive to farmers because prices have fallen both for Blue Mountain and High Mountain. We have partnerships with farmers through various programs. We also participated in a program in 2017 called Jamaica Business Fund through the World Bank, where we received funding that we distributed to our farmers under different development plans. We have provided training, fertilizers, and chemical inputs at no or low costs to farmers in an effort to encourage them to get into production.
How do you contribute to Jamaica's communities?
MM Our certification by Starbucks is an example of our commitment to social improvement. We work with communities to make sure we create opportunities for these families to generate wealth. Economic constraints mean that we cannot overpay farmers for coffee, though we can pay them cash for their coffee and also pay them through non-cash services, for example, by repairing the roads or helping schools.
JOM We are a large employer of labor and operate two farms, as well as a roasting factory and a retail outlet. We have 170 permanent employees, so we are doing our part by creating jobs, producing locally, and spurring economic growth.