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 distribution firm.
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 arrangement, Everglades Farms is confident in 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 negotiation with another company to market, sell and distribute the product," said Christelle Harris, director of marketing at Hampden Estate, where the rum is being produced. "We will not provide any other detail until the deal is sealed.
"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," added Harris.
Since its launch in March 2011, Rum Fire has seen much growth in the local market. However, it has to face off with established player and rum king J Wray & Nephew, which has four fifths of the rum market.
Awarded gold medal
According to Harris, Rum Fire was awarded its first gold medal at this year's International Wine & Spirits Competition, and she believes the achievement has caught the attention of a number of US and European importers.
"Yes, we do have some interest (from US and Europe), but will not say much more on that at this time, but the growth of the product is our ultimate goal," said Harris.
Hampden Estate which, along with the Long Pond Sugar Factory in Trelawny, is operated and managed by 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 almost 500,000 litres of absolute alcohol annually to Europe and South Africa.