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Rum sales forecast to break £1 billion barrier this year

UK rum sales are set to exceed £1 billion this year, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has said, with a surge in rum cocktail sales expected this Bank Holiday weekend during Notting Hill Carnival.

Consumer interest in “craft” cocktails is driving rum sales

The latest figures from the WSTA’s annual Spirits Report, which details total spirit sales from last year, revealed that Brits bought almost 34 million bottles of rum in 2016 – worth £960 million.

This equates to a 5% increase in off-trade volume sales and 6% increase in on-trade sales compared to the previous year, credited to a “growing appetite” for rum, consumer interest in “craft” cocktails, and the revival of Tiki bars.

In the last 5 years, UK rum sales have grown 15% by volume and 32% by value, possibly also due to the large volume of brands now available on the market – around 50 brands in 2006, and more than 150 in 2016.

Chief executive of the WSTA, Miles Beale, said: “Rum is another spirit punching above its weight and benefiting from the craft cocktail craze. We are pleased to see a flurry of new British rum brands popping up in recent years.

“As we have seen a rapid growth in the number of distilleries in the UK, a new wave of UK spirit makers are turning their hand to rum production. We are calling on the Government to support our innovative spirit makers by freezing excise duty until Budget 2018 and reviewing its regressive policy of year-on-year inflationary rises in excise duty for the full term of the current Parliament.

“With 78% of an averaged priced bottle of rum made up of tax, UK consumers are being punished, and the potential of our internationally recognised spirits industry is damaged, too. Recent history shows that lower rates of duty are proven to boost business and bring more money into the Treasury’s coffers.”

Total spirit sales amounted to more than £10bn in 2016, with nearly half of UK drinkers – approximately 24 million people – choosing to drink spirits, up by 8% on 2015.

Though gin reported larger growth, rum sold more by volume in pubs, bars and restaurants in 2016.

Peter Thornton, rum and cocktail category development manager at Cellar Trends, added: “The general interest in rum has grown a lot over the past couple of years. I am seeing more faces at tastings and masterclasses, and people asking more questions too. People genuinely want to know more.

“Some of this is brand led, smaller or lesser known brands draw a lot of curiosity, but for most, its cross category knowledge they want, which can only be a good thing for rum.”

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