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Rum sales surpass whisky in GB on-trade

Sales of rum in Great Britain’s on-trade reached £1.1 billion (US$1.4bn) in value in the 12 months to December 2023, overtaking whisky for the second year in a row.

Rum has a 14% share of total spirits sales in Great Britain’s on-trade, led by spiced variants

Data from CGA by Nielsen IQ showed a 2% decline for both rum and whisky last year in Great Britain’s on-trade, with whisky reaching a value of £959 million (US$1.2bn).

Rum now has a 14% share of spirits sales, while whisky has a 13% share.

Rum is ahead of all other spirits categories, with the exception of cream liqueurs and brandy (and comfortably ahead of total spirits, which is down by 6%), CGA noted.

Sales of rum surpassed the £1bn mark in the 12 months to July 2022, overtaking whisky, CGA previously revealed.

“Golden (down by 4%, makes up 59% of value share of rum, down one percentage point versus a year ago) and white (down by 2%, 23% share, +0.1pp) are in decline, but dark rum is in growth at 5% (18% share, +1pp),” explained Paul Bolton, CGA by NIQ’s client director for drinks.

“Spiced rum, which sits across golden and dark, is also in decline at -2% (58% value share, +0.1pp). Dark’s success is driven by the (spiced) subcategory leader, which appeals to a younger demographic, as well as retaining a premium image. Other spiced brands though see strong growth, while more mainstream brands drag down overall performance.”

CGA noted that premium rum, despite being down by 2%, is performing way ahead of standard rum (down by 10%).

Bolton continued: “As consumers continue to look for more premium brands when spending on treat occasions, premium rum should continue to perform ahead of rival categories, but must ensure it tackles the same barriers as the rest of the category, including how to innovate across different occasions, outlet types and serves in the face of ongoing struggles in the late-night sector.

“Standard rum brands need to ensure they are retaining listings in the right outlets and working with operators to be involved in the right offers and promotions.”

Total rum volume in the UK was stagnant in 2022, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, which noted that the category grew by 6% between 2017 and 2022. The sector is predicted to rise by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3% between 2022 and 2027.

Premium-and-above rums saw a 1% volume drop in the UK in 2022 and is expected to climb by 3% (CAGR 2022-2027).

Higher growth is expected to come from the super-premium-and-above segment, which is estimated to increase by 8% (CAGR 2022‐ 2027) in the UK, following a 23% rise in 2022.

Patrick Fisher, senior market analyst – UK, IWSR, said: “After registering strong growth in the previous years, rum flatlined in 2022, with volume growth largely limited to super‐premium‐and‐above products, which remain a small niche segment. Category growth is being driven by spiced rum, which accounts for around half of overall volume.

“White rums have been in long-term decline, but the popularity of cocktails has held to maintain sales in the on-trade.”

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