Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
The Hussey family-owned Everglades Farms has parted company with Red Stripe Jamaica, which it hired as the exclusive distributor of its white overproof rum brand Rum Fire, and is now on the hunt for a new distributor.
Red Stripe, which inked the Rum Fire deal just last year, has entered the market with its own product, D&G White Overproof Rum.
However, despite the change in arrangements, Everglades Farms says it is confident of achieving its projected target of a 15 per cent market share in the next two years.
"Our arrangement with Red Stripe ended at the end of August and we are now in negotiations with another company to market, sell and distribute the product," said Christelle Harris, director of marketing at Hampden Estate where Rum Fire is produced.
"We will not provide any other detail until the deal is sealed," Harris said. "For us, it is about market penetration and we will continue our aggressive marketing and promotional campaigns. ... We believe that we will be able to achieve our goal of 15 per cent market share in two years," she added.
Rum Fire was launched in March 2011. It enters a market that is growing but substantially dominated by J. Wray & Nephew Limited, which controls about 80 per cent of the rum market.
Rum is estimated to dominate 68 per cent of the liquor consumption market.
According to Harris, Rum Fire was awarded its first gold medal at this year's International Wines and Spirits competition, and she believes the prize has brought the product to the attention of US and European importers.
"Yes, we do have some interest (from US and Europe), but we will not say much more on that at this time. The growth of the product is our ultimate goal," said Harris.
Hampden Estate - which along with the Long Pond Sugar Factory is operated and managed by the Hussey family-owned Everglades Farms - is located on a 5,600-acre property in Trelawny. It has existed for close to 300 years and is the only distillery in Jamaica that specialises exclusively in the making of heavy-pot still rums.
The estate exports close to 500,000 litres of absolute alcohol annually to Europe and South Africa.