Rum brands to watch in 2021

18th December, 2020 by Owen Bellwood

The rum sector is predicted to return to growth in 2021, boosted by flavoured and spiced variants. We forecast the brands that will shine in the year ahead.

Rum was positively flourishing coming into 2020, having seen sales surpass 150m nine‐litre cases for the first time in 2019. And while the challenges of 2020 have dampened the category’s sales this year, data analysis firm Euromonitor International predicts the rum sector will return to growth in 2021.

Figures from Euromonitor International predict that rum sales will drop by 16% to 128.7m cases in 2020, but are estimated to grow to 135m nine‐litre cases by the end of next year.

According to Anne Martin, international marketing director at Pernod Ricard‐owned Havana Club, product innovation and experimentation have been key drivers of growth for the sector in the past, and will support rum’s recovery.

“The category has reinvented itself as a highly fashionable and a credible alternative to high‐quality dark spirits, with both consumers and the drinks trade demonstrating a growing appetite and interest within this multifaceted category,” she says. “Rum is a versatile spirit that can play into multiple fields, which means it appeals to a wide range of consumers, of a legal drinking age, looking for unique experiences.”

Rum appears to have grown more favourable among UK drinkers during the Covid‐19 pandemic. According to data from trade body the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), between April and June 2020, 38% more rum was sold in the UK than during the same period last year. Total rum sales for the period were worth £119m (US$155m). Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said the figures show that UK drinkers’ experimentation with rum in pubs and bars had carried over to the home, making rum “lockdown’s champion”.

Rum has been boosted by the growth of flavoured and spiced variants, which is now the largest subcategory of rum in the UK off‐trade, exceeding white rum for the first time with 9% growth by volume in 2019, according to the WSTA’s 2020 Market Report.

In spite of this success in the UK, globally, rum’s off‐trade sales look set to fall in value to US$11.4 billion in 2020 and could decline further in 2021 to US$11.2bn, according to Euromonitor International.

In the on‐trade, Havana has sought to support the bartending community in 2020. The brand’s close ties to the world’s bartenders saw it collaborate with industry experts, including Alex Kratena, to produce its Professional Edition rums.

Martin says: “We have made it a priority to support the bartending community throughout the pandemic and as the industry begins to recover, and have launched a series of initiatives to do so. The first is the Entrepreneur Frontline Programme, a series of online forums enabling those in hospitality to share stories and seek advice.”

Martin says Havana Club has seen “increased momentum in accelerator markets such as Russia, Poland and Mexico”, and that increased rum consumption at home in markets such as the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and France will help “establish growth”.

Click through the following pages to see which brands we believe are ones to watch in the year ahead.

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