Jamaica Gleaner

Coffee berry purchases halted at Mavis Bank, Wallenford

- Avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com

PURCHASES OF cherry coffee have been suspended, for the time being, at sister companies Wallenford and Mavis Bank Coffee Factory.

The action was dictated by slow sales, said a representa­tive of the companies, both of which are ultimately owned by Michael LeeChin.

“Mavis Bank and Wallenford have been the only persons buying since the start of the crop year. We buy to meet orders, so we don’t need more coffee right now. We are usually the market leader, and others have started to buy now, so the farmers will shift and sell to them,” said a source at Wallenford.

“We will start back as orders dictate,” the person said, while noting they could not offer a precise date. With a 5,000-acre collection of properties, including half of the local lands used to grow Blue Mountain coffee, Wallenford Coffee Company is the largest processor of green beans for high mountain coffee. Mavis Bank primarily sells Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, JBM.

Earlier this year, executives in the sister companies said they were looking to develop a market for coffee in China to rebalance and eventually equalise with Japan, which has been buying less than in former times. However, they still sell 70 per cent of their output to Japan.

In September, Lee-Chin made a donation of $60 million to small farmers, a gift he said was unconnecte­d to Wallenford and Mavis Bank. The money, made available through the Rural Agricultur­al Developmen­t Authority, was intended to assist 7,000 registered coffee farmers.

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