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Huge potential for “super-premium” rums identified

Representatives of Diageo maintain that there is considerable potential for the development of the super-premium rum category, with predictions that the volume of sales of super-premium rum will rise 50% by 2017, driven by spiced varieties, where sales have doubled in the past 10 years.

In a report titled Authentic Caribbean Rum: A decade of rum, the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA) foresees particular opportunities for sales of premium-aged rum for sipping and savouring, and considers that Authentic Caribbean Rum (ACR) Marque rums are well placed to capitalise on this trend.

ACR Marque rums are produced to agreed common standards and regulations, which are clear, transparent and compliant with the highest international standards of production. As WIRSPA points out, the growth in higher-quality rum sales is dispelling rums reputation as a maverick category lacking regulation.

There are now 17 distinct ACR Marque rum products on the market from 12 ACP Caribbean countries, with the ACR marketing campaign providing consumers with stories of provenance and quality that highlight the diversity and authenticity of these high-quality rums. While the ACR Marque has been in place since 2008, developing and securing stakeholder buy-in to the programme required 6 years of intensive preparation before the launch of the marque and associated programme components.

The marketing of ACR premium rums is being targeted at particular groups of consumers in identified national markets. In terms of new target markets, the French rum market is seen as underdeveloped, but with an emerging premium and super-premium tier, with premium rums growing by some 36% between 2010 and 2011. In Italy there is also a growing awareness of premium rums, particularly sipping rums, while golden rums also remain fashionable in Holland, where rum sales bucked the downward trend in spirits sales. Denmark, meanwhile, is seen as offering real potential over the medium term and, like Sweden and Norway, has a strong appreciation of premium-aged spirits, with consumers diversifying into premium-end rums.

Despite the economic difficulties of recent years, Spain remains the main EU rum market, taking nearly 4 million cases a year. The market is, however, affected by youth unemployment, given the importance of youth for rum consumption, and the emergence of competition from discount-priced own-label rums. Premium Dominican [DR] rum brands Brugal and Barcel account for over a third of the market in Spain.

In Germany, rum consumption is growing as the large brands adopt lifestyle positions, premium positions and invest in sipping rum. The UK, meanwhile, has seen a rapid growth in spiced rum sales (21% volume share) over the past five years, with smaller brands helping ignite the category. Home consumption sales are also growing, and the UK further acts as a showcase for Middle East and Far Eastern markets.

Beyond the EU, there is seen to be considerable scope for increased sales of premium- and super-premium rums in Russia, where there has been growth of around 30% for rum in each of the last 3 years, and China, where it is thought that aged rums could emulate the success of cognac and whisky by finding favour with quality conscious consumers.