By Durrant Pate
The Supreme Court will deliver its judgment tomorrow (Friday, November 6) in the crucial legal battle between Salada Foods and the Jamaica Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Authority (JACRA).
When the case last came up in court in two months ago Presiding Supreme Court judge, Justice Anne-Marie Nembhard, reserved her judgment until mid-October having heard two days of legal submissions from both parties. The court has advised the disputing parties that judgment in the case will be delivered tomorrow.
Salada took JACRA to court, having filed a lawsuit to block the agricultural produce regulatory authority from effecting an order mandating the company to use a 30 per cent local coffee content in its blended coffee.
Salada is seeking, among other things, leave to apply for judicial review to seek orders of certiorari and mandamus.
These legal remedies are being sought by Salada, which is challenging JACRA’s 30 per cent local coffee content imposition in the formulation of its instant coffee blend.
The effective date of the directive was September 1, 2020, but Salada took the matter to court before the directive could be put in effect.
As a result, there is a stay of the order pending the outcome of the case.
Salada resisting 30% local coffee content imposition
At present, Salada uses 10 per cent local coffee in its blend of instant coffee but the company is resisting the increased local coffee content because it will change its instant coffee formula, which will be detrimental to the company’s cost of sales.
According to Salada, the move will materially change the taste profile of its Mountain Peak Coffee brand, which currently enjoys over 50 per cent market share of the instant coffee sector, noting that the company is unsure of how receptive consumers will be to this.
JACRA has stated that it will not be extending the 10 per cent local coffee content waiver, which Salada has been enjoying since January 2018.
JACRA, which was established for the development, regulation, and standardization of the agricultural commodities (coffee, cocoa, coconut and spices) industry, is insisting that Salada complies with its imposition of the 30 per cent local coffee content.
Salada Foods was first granted permission to use 10 per cent of local coffee in their instant coffee products in January 2018. This was following on the low production of Jamaica High Mountain Coffee, which resulted in low availability for Salada’s purposes.
The permit was further extended to Salada Foods on April 18, 2019, and expired December 2019 with JACRA declaring that it will not extend the waiver any further.