Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Jamaica rum exports projected to grow

Published:Friday | March 10, 2017 | 3:00 AMSteven Jackson

Jamaica's rum exports are projected to grow in the medium term, in contrast to the global picture where a downturn is expected, according to a new report.

The global rum market will decline over the next five years, according to joint research from Just-Drinks and The IWSR, laid out in Global Rum Insights.

Jamaica's producers exported US$37.3 million worth of rum between January and November 2016 compared with US$35.5 million in the same period in 2015, according to Statistical Institute of Jamaica data.

The global rum report forecasts a compounded annual decline of 0.5 per cent between 2016 and 2021, representing a decline of almost 3.7 million cases of rum.

The top three markets - India, the US and the Philippines - are all expected to record declines. The report said the predicted five-year dip follows a decline of 0.8 per cent in 2015 to 141.8 million nine-litre cases, with four of the top five markets registering declines.

"Meanwhile, Peru, Australia and Jamaica, are all expected to grow strongly over the next few years," stated the report, while adding that some growth is also expected for Cuba and Dominican Republic.

Commenting on the report, CEO of National Rums Jamaica Limited (NRJ) Winston Harrison told the Financial Gleaner that the market for Jamaica's exports, especially its aged rums, is still growing.

"And there are opportunities for aged rum exports internationally, especially to Europe," he said.

National Rums trades in bulk rum, but it also bottles the spirit under the Monymusk brand.

Harrison said that the branded rum resonates well with an upscale market in Europe, in part due to the aged nature of some of the rums but also because of the increased exposure of Jamaica's sports and culture, which positively impacts on rum sales.

"We have a growing interest despite what might be happening internationally," he said, when asked about the island's growth prospects in a world set for a slight decline across the main rum-producing markets.

Retooling and investing

NRJ acquired the rum distilleries at Monymusk, Long Pond and Innswood Estates over 30 years ago.

"We are retooling and investing with a view to reposition our Long Pond facility to support the demand for the European market," he said.

In the rum report, Germany is predicted to be flat to 2021, while only "small declines" are forecast for France, Spain and the United Kingdom. India, however, will see a fall of more than two million cases, while volumes in the Philippines are forecast to decline by 3.8 million cases.

"Taken all together, these trends reflect a growing diversity among rum's global markets," the report stated. "While high-volume (but usually low-value) countries such as India and the Philippines are set to decline, a basket of much smaller but more promising destinations are on the increase."

One of the reasons for the growth involves the focus on premium brands, which are still "expanding at a healthy rate".

IWSR compiles data on the alcoholic beverage industry through research conducted in more than a hundred countries annually, while Just-Drinks.com is the online news, insight and research portal dedicated to the global drinks industry.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com