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An array of Caribbean-produced rums. (Photo: Caribbean Export Development Agency)

More rum, please! Caribbean Export serves up response to growing rum popularity in Europe

An array of Caribbean-produced rums. (Photo: Caribbean Export Development Agency)

The Caribbean’s premier alcoholic beverage, rum, has seen a double-digit increase in demand across Western European countries.

According to a Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export)-commissioned report, the popularity of the rum in countries such as the UK, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands over the past few years indicates the commodity’s significant yet untapped potential as an export item.

It is for this reason that Caribbean Export will be seeking to highlight Caribbean Rums at the Absolutely Caribbean virtual expo, which begins tomorrow and ends on Wednesday

What the data shows

“We are seeing great opportunity for Caribbean rum across Europe at the moment and we are really excited to have some fantastic producers at our event this year which helps to support international trade between the Caribbean and Europe,” Dr Damie Sinanan, manager for competitiveness and export promotion at Caribbean Export, commented recently.

Dr Damie Sinanan, manager for competitiveness and export promotion, Caribbean Export. (Photo: carib-export.com)

In the UK, for example, total rum sales amounted to £1bn last year, and Caribbean rum plays an important part within that, Caribbean export explains. In fact, more 51 per cent of the top-10 rum brands sold in the UK are Caribbean-produced.

Elsewhere, in Spain, Caribbean-produced rums value €42.3 million. In Germany, Rum, Arrak and Tafia form 10.9 per cent of the spirits’ market.

Cocktails, in particular, seem to be driving growth in the market as almost half of German consumers say that cocktails are their preferred style of serving when it comes to drinking spirits, Caribbean Exports reports.

In the Netherlands, rum forms just over a tenth of the Dutch Spirits market.

A participant at a rum session at the 4th CARIFORUM – EU Business Forum sniffs a glass of the alcoholic beverage. (Photo: ieyenews.com)

“Consumers are becoming more aware of the unparalleled diversity of styles and flavours of Caribbean rum, and they love what it has to offer. This is why rum is the fastest-growing spirit in the European market. We are excited to see where the future of rum will take us,” Benjamin Boothe and Kristoffer von Stedingk, Rum Spirits Academy Europe commented.

Partnerships and trade-offs

‘Absolutely Caribbean — unlocking the profit potential of the Caribbean’ aims to showcase the array of Caribbean producers and to support trade between the Caribbean and Europe. To highlight Caribbean rum at the event, the region’s export marketing and trade promotion agency has partnered with the West Indies Rum & Spirit Producer’s Association (WIRSPA), which will host a rum seminar in collaboration with the Rum and Spirits Academy of Europe.

The partnership with WIRSPA aims to support the participation of regional producers and leverage their knowledge and expertise in the international market since the association is one of the oldest private sector trade associations in the Caribbean. It 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.

As the representative of rum distillers’ from across the ACP Caribbean, WIRSPA’s support of the Absolutely Caribbean virtual expo comes with the expectation of driving increased trade of rum and spirits between the region and Europe.

“Consumers are becoming more aware of the unparalleled diversity of styles and flavours of Caribbean rum, and they love what it has to offer. This is why rum is the fastest-growing spirit in the European market.

— Benjamin Boothe and Kristoffer von Stedingk of Rum Spirits Academy Europe

“The rum and spirits sectors are an important sector for trade in CARIFORUM and we have seen exports to the European Union grow by nearly 27 per cent between 2017-2019,” Sinanan shared.

A place for small exporters

Despite a contraction in sales in domestic markets and internationally due to the restrictions around lockdowns and social gatherings, Caribbean rum producers report continued interest in their premium offerings and are working to ensure that they capitalise on this interest once markets return to normalcy. Brands from Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti and Suriname will participate at Absolutely Caribbean.

While noting her pleasure to see her company participate, Delphine Gardere, managing director of Rhum Barbancourt out of Haiti pointed out that, “…we think the virtual exhibition will allow us to reach new markets and provide tangible export results.”

Delphine Gardere, managing director, Rhum Barbancourt (Photo: EU Reporter)

And, according to, Vaughn Renwick, CEO of WIRSPA, “This virtual trade show is designed to benefit smaller brands looking to extend their reach in export markets — key to its success is attracting solid importers, distributors and wholesalers to be part of the show. We think Caribbean Export has done a great job on this score”. 

He added: “We’re pleased to partner with Caribbean Export on this innovative venture — presenting a virtual exhibition is new for many of us and it is great to see Caribbean Export leading the way.”