Even as most Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries continue to struggle for market access for their manufactured goods on European and North American markets, Jamaica, long the regional leader in brands that find favour on the shelves of some of the more popular metropolitan markets, continues to forge ahead.
Last week, the region learnt that Wallenford Coffee Company Ltd, which is owned by Jamaican-born billionaire entrepreneur Michael Lee-Chen had secured yet another prestigious deal for one of its high-quality brands, landing acceptance on the shelves of the Brompton Road, Knightsbridge world famous Harrods Department Store.
Wallenford’s success is reportedly due in large measure to the company’s branding efforts undertaken with the Australian company Uberbrand in an effort to raise its overall luxury profile as distinct from the other already internationally known Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) coffees.
Wallenford, the Gleaner says, had been accepted at Harrods since 2014 but the brand only started being offered from this year.
Wallenford is currently in its third year under Lee-Chen’s ownership after being acquired from the Jamaican government and the entry of its product into the Harrods ‘hall of fame’ further consolidates the island’s position as the region’s most successful exporter of manufactured foods.
The Gleaner report on Wallenford’s achievement says that “as speciality coffee lovers are drawn to unique coffee experiences… coffee from a single origin, such as the Blue Mountain range of Jamaica, has been one of the highest price point coffees for most of its existence.”
Much of Jamaica’s international standing as a globally recognized food manufacturer derives from the extraordinary success over the years of Grace-Kennedy, first established as a modest trading establishment but expanded and diversified over the years to the point where the company is now listed on the stock exchanges in several countries in the region and owning a network of dozens of subsidiaries.
Last year the Grace Kennedy Group realized revenues totaling, J$79.74 billion, representing a J$8.90 billion, 12.6% increase over 2014. The company is also reporting profits of J$3.25 billion for 2015.
Wallenford is reported to have come in for considerable praise from the Harrods “coffee team” which, according to the Gleaner, described it as having “a smoother finish with a more mellow aftertaste.”