Caribbean rum producers target Europe under revived agreement

Caribbean rum producers are joining forces with French group CIRT-DOM to increase competitiveness of their products in the European Union.

A joint agreement was signed between CARIFORUM and the WIRSPA to make their products more competitive in major EU markets.

On February 20, CARIFORUM indicated that members who were rum producers and also members of the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA), recently signed a MOU with their French counterparts in CIRT-DOM.

CIRT-DOM comprises the traditional rum producers of Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Reunion, which are all departments of France.

The groups are targeting a market, which by the most recent data provided by the Caribbean association had exceeding US$2.6 billion in 2015. Global exports of rum increased 37.5 per cent between 2006 and 2015, peaking in 2013 at over US$1.63 billion in exports. 

“Both our groupings are traditional producers of authentic rum…and we have together worked to build the reputation of rum as a quality premium spirit…”

– President of CIRT-DOM, Alain Chatel

Global market forecasts at marketdataforecast.com, indicate that the international market for rum was worth US$20 billion in 2020.

According to Chairman of WIRSPA, Komal Samaroo, “We have a long history of collaboration with our French counterparts, almost 25 years since the signing of our first agreement in 1997. Together we face a sharp rise in non-traditional imports of rum into our traditional markets, especially the European Union and the UK. Many of these competing brands do not always follow the rules, and many benefit from extensive production and marketing subsidies which place us at a competitive disadvantage. These developments, coupled with the impact of Brexit and the new trade deals being pursued by the UK, underline the need for joint action,” he said.

The West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association is one of the oldest private sector trade associations in the Caribbean and represents rum producers in Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Haiti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago.

According to CARIFORUM, the two groupings represent, which have a tradition of rum production that stretches hundreds of years, have renewed their commitment to working together in the interest of building the rum category based on authentic provenance, common rules and promoting a level playing field against increasing competition from products which benefit from production subsidies.

It is the sixth agreement between the groups.

Alain Chatel, president of the French grouping CIRT-DOM said, “We have worked with WIRSPA over several decades to promote rum rules that respect origin, and to urge compliance with the regulations which do not permit flavouring of rum, and labelling regulations that are truthful. Both our groupings are traditional producers of authentic rum based on true provenance, and we have together worked to build the reputation of rum as a quality premium spirit, alongside the best of the best. We share a common philosophy.”