Local liquor company J. Wray & Nephew is down-playing the significance of the counterfeit trade in some of its products while arguing that the problem is much less now that 20 years or so ago.
Responding to a recent Sunday Gleaner exposť, the company said the amount of illicit rum in the market place was greatly overstated.
"While exact number is obviously not quantifiable, based on its extensive experience over many years of combating the illicit trade, J. Wray & Nephew estimates that the amount of illicit product actually in the marketplace is less than one per cent," said the company in response to reports that as much as 10 per cent of the rum on the market might be counterfeit.
"This (one percent) is clearly a number which the brand owner, ... as a responsible taxpayer, clearly wish was even smaller," added the company.
PROBLEM NOT NEW
According to J. Wray & Nephew, the problem of illicit, or bootleg rum, is not new and is one which it has addressed over many years.
"Further, J. Wray & Nephew - as a concerned and responsible brand owner - pioneered in Jamaica, the implementation of tamper-evident packaging with state-of-the-art safety features which are revised on a regular basis to reflect industry improvements."
The company said the improvements in the safety features are communicated in the liquor trade through an ongoing dialogue to sensitise its customers about the existence of illicit products and to ensure that they do not purchase it wittingly or unwittingly.
That was underscored by a Allman Town-based bar operator who last Thursday told The Sunday Gleaner that based on recent media reports, she was able to identify two bottles of the illicit product and not purchase them.
"I ordered four quarts of rum from a wholesale downtown (Kingston), and when I got them I could see that two of the seals were glued back together, so I told the man I did not want them," the bartender reported.
"The owner said he had done some consignment and they returned some rum, so he believes that it might be the promoter who was trying to pass the bad rum on to him," added the bartender, who asked not to be named.
In the meantime, J. Wray and Nephew applauded the Organised Crime Division of the police force and the Tax Administration Department for the work they have been doing in seeking out and prosecuting those involved in the illicit trade.
More tips that can be used by consumers to identify fake rum
1. Look for impurity or foreign matter in the liquid; do this by holding the bottle up to the light and shake to unsettle anything that may be inside.
2. The red seal, when broken, should fall off freely into two equal pieces.
3. The wording WRAY & NEPHEW must appear three times on the red seal, in a consistent manner.
Tips wholesalers and retailers can use to identify the sellers of counterfeit rum
1. They refuse to give a genuine receipt.
2. Refuse to provide ID, contact number, or address; often times just say that they are 'rum man' from J. Wray & Nephew.
3. Always offer to sell for less than the going price; currently they sell a bottle for less than $900.
4. Always deliver using a taxi or unmarked vehicle.