Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica
As noted in the History of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, coffee production declined starting shortly after emancipation. But in the 1930’s quality began to decline as well. By the late 1930’s most of the coffee was exported to Canada, and to a lesser extent, the US. The three major Jamaican produce dealers who controlled the coffee exports began to take advantage of a lucrative market by shipping coffee that did not match the pre-shipment samples. By 1943 Canadian importers refused to purchase any Jamaican coffee, and the Americans followed suit.
The exporters ended up with warehouses full of coffee and no market, as World War II essentially prevented any exports to Europe. But it was the growers who suffered more as purchases by the exporters ceased. Agricultural interests clamored for government intervention in the coffee market. The Inspector General of Agricultural for the West Indies, Mr. A.J. Wakefield produced the blueprint to save the coffee industry. His 1944 report, “Rehabilitation of the Coffee Industry in Jamaica” called for a temporary Coffee Officer to assist the growers and mills in improving quality, consistent standards that export coffee should meet, encouraged the growers to form coops and the establishment of a coffee board. In the same year the Jamaican government formed the Coffee Clearing House that purchased, cleaned and graded coffee from the Produce Dealers. The Coffee Clearing House then exported the coffee. Its monopoly on exports and quality control allowed exports to resume.
The growers were not happy to see exports in the hands of the Clearing House and the Produce Dealers so they formed the Association of Coffee Growers which lobbied successfully for the establishment of a Coffee Board. In 1950 the Coffee Industry Board was formed to “encourage the development of the industry and for the promotion of the welfare of the persons engaged therein”.
The Coffee Industry Board now works with growers and processors to ensure quality coffee is grown, picked and processed. It defined the Jamaica Blue Mountain growing area and trademarked the Jamaica Blue Mountain and Jamaica High Mountain Supreme names internationally to protect the brands.
In addition to licensing processors of coffee, the CIB must approve the buyers of exported coffee. All exports pass through the CIB warehouse and each shipment is tested for quality prior to export. These steps have helped improve and maintain the quality of Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee is recognized for its high quality and sells at a large premium to almost every other coffee in the world.
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