World Spirits Report 2022: RumBy Nicola Carruthers
There is much excitement in the rum category, with an explosion of new flavours and home cocktail making bringing more consumers in as they explore the various styles, from agricole to spiced.
In the UK, Nielsen IQ data showed sales of rum have surpassed £1 billion (US$1.2bn) a year, meaning it now has a 13% share of the overall spirits sector, a larger portion than whisky. Rum’s growth was attributed to “surging interest from younger consumers”, according to Nielsen IQ. Nearly half (48%) of rum drinkers were found to be aged 18 to 34, the research also revealed, which is four percentage points higher than a year ago.
Growth is also being led by premium-and above bottlings. “Off-trade data [in the UK] from Nielsen shows that premium rum sales increased by 18% in value in 2021, while the standard rum category declined by 1.7% – a trend we are seeing mirrored in markets across the globe,” says Anne Martin, global marketing director for Havana Club.
This has been noticed by major drinks firms, including Brown-Forman, which in October 2022 agreed to buy Diplomático rum. In that same month, Pernod Ricard ‘significantly’ increased its minority stake in US-based Sovereign Brands, producer of Caribbean rum Bumbu. It followed Pernod taking a majority stake in ultra-premium Colombian brand La Hechicera last year.
Rachel Adams, marketing director for UK-based Halewood Artisanal Spirits, producer of Dead Man’s Fingers rum, says the spiced and flavoured rum category has grown significantly over the past few years. However, she notes the challenge of competing with more brands in the category. “With so much competition, it has never been more important to keep our offering interesting and engaging, and we continue to do so through innovation and creative marketing support,” she adds.
As for trends that are likely to take place in the year ahead, Julka Villa, Campari Group’s head of marketing, predicts there will be a “steady growth of subcategories like rhum agricole, which all have a really rich history and offer a flavour profile that is new to many consumers”.
Martin adds: “We predict that premiumisation, provenance and innovation to drive relevancy will be the biggest trends in the rum category in 2023, which we will continue to focus on over the next 12 months.”
Brands to watch in 2023
Diplomático, the world’s leading ultra-premium rum, became Brown-Forman’s first rum after the group acquired the Venezuelan brand in October 2022. It is already available in more than 100 countries, with France, Germany and the US being its biggest markets. With US-based drinks giant Brown-Forman behind the brand, Diplomático could soar to new heights in the year ahead.
Ten to One Rum
There aren’t many famous faces behind rum, yet Caribbean brand Ten to One last year signed up American singer Ciara as an investor, co-owner and director. The brand has now gained additional investment from Diageo-backed incubator Pronghorn, which is dedicated to supporting Black-owned spirits brands. The funds will allow the brand to expand its footprint in “other major metropolitan hubs”, and “introduce consumers to new occasions for which rum should be considered the spirit of choice”, says founder Marc Farrell.
In January 2021, Neptune Rum sold a 50% stake to UK-based spirits producer Babco. In September 2022, the company completed its takeover of the rum brand with plans to establish it globally. Multiple national listings are to be announced, and the brand recently released a new five-strong collection of flavoured rums. There is more to come from the brand in the year ahead – watch this space.