Globally, rum isn’t the picture postcard it is perceived to be. In volume terms the category saw a 1% erosion in 2015, according to Euromonitor International.
Probably it was last year that provided the watershed moment when king of the beach, Bacardi, lost its deckchair to Diageo’s local Indian brand, McDowell’s No.1 Celebration.
It was symbolic, but a year on and we can say with some certainty that the volume leader of rum is the one that looses the least volumes, not gains the most. This year both brands fell to under 18m cases. In India, a hugely volatile spirits market, champion rum McDowell’s has kept things relatively stable, losing 3% of its liquid mass in 2015.
White rum is the segment that is facing headwinds – and this is the very sand from which Bacardi built its castle. The ex-Cuban brand, which dropped 4% last year, looks like it may never hit the heights of 20m cases again. It doesn’t seem to care.
DI spoke to Fabio Di Giammarco, vice president for Bacardi rum, about how the company is aiming for value, not volume: “In all major categories the premium and super- premium segments have developedtremendously recently but for some reason it isn’t true for rum. The global leader in all those categories had something to do with it but the global leader for rum hasn’t done much to premiumise its category – and I’m looking at ourselves in the past. There is a huge opportunity.”
Indeed, with Bacardi now interested in building a premium category, not just a brand, rum will no doubt have a more prosperous future (Euromonitor International forecasts 5% growth by 2020). But in terms of brand volume, it will likely shed a few pounds to make a few pounds over the coming years. Tanduay, the Philippine rum currently in third place may end up taking second spot some day soon – and not necessarily because of its own volume growth.
Outside the big three, spiced Captain Morgan has been growing volume just over the 10m case mark. This is thanks in no small part to its now diversified offering across segments. As they say, variety is the spice of life.
Dropping down to Havana Club in fifth place we see a brand struggling to find new areas of growth. With the US market a step closer (after its longstanding battle with Bacardi over the Havana Club trademark and the softening of Cuba-US relations), the Pernod Ricard brand can start to dream of selling in the largest premium rum market, the US.
One notable omission from this list is Brugal. Edrington refused to provide Drinks International with sales data for the brand.