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Cocktails boost rum sales in UK on-trade

Rum sales in the UK on-trade rose 7% in 2019 driven by the popularity of cocktails and mixed drinks, plus flavoured and spiced variants.

The popularity of rum in cocktails helped to bolster the category’s growth in the UK on-trade

Data from CGA’s On-Premise Measurement tool showed sales of rum were “well ahead” of other spirits such as brandy, which grew 3.1%, whisky which was up 0.9% and vodka, which dropped 0.4%.

According to CGA’s Brand Track survey, just over five million consumers drink rum out of home, an increase of 10% year on year.

CGA also said rum contributed to a spike in sales across spirits in 2019, with the total value for spirits up by 6.2% compared to a 0.6% decline for wine.

Spirits growth was led by gin, which saw on-trade sales more than triple in the last five years. Rum “could now be positioned to follow its upward trajectory”, CGA noted.

“These figures show how rum is an increasingly popular choice for consumers on spirit and cocktail menus,” said Phillip Montgomery, client director at CGA.

“Sales have got a long way to go to match the stellar performance of gin, but its variety and versatility makes rum a major growth opportunity for operators and suppliers in 2020 and beyond.”

CGA also highlighted the opportunity for premium rums, The company said consumers have an average of 4.6 brands in their collection, but only 1.7 of these are premium brands. However, CGA said there was room to increase awareness of niche and craft rum varieties.

The analyst also noted the chance to alter consumers’ attitudes to mixers. CGA said there is “relatively little” awareness of the potential to drink it neat, or paired with juice, ginger ale or other alternatives. Four in five rum drinkers consume the dark spirit with cola (51%) or diet cola (32%).

CGA’s Match segmentation tool also revealed rum is “starting to penetrate mainstream consumer groups as well as early adopters”.

Brand Track reveals that price influences two in five (40%) rum drinkers, making it the leading factor in choices ahead of the availability of a favourite brand (34%) and visibility on the bar (29%).

“Compared to some categories, rum consumers are fairly limited in the number of brands they use and the ways they drink it,” said Montgomery. “If operators and suppliers can educate and inspire people about the potential of rum, we could well see more and more people trading up and experimenting.

“But with many operators expanding their cocktail and mixer selections, it’s becoming a very competitive arena, and brands are going to have stay right on top of their ranging, pricing and serving strategies to generate drinkers’ loyalty.”

UK sales of spiced and flavoured rum grew by 80% between 2014 and 2019 to surpass 10 million bottles, according to figures from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

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