Rum’s got punch

24 November, 2015

Nick Blacknell: Across the board, consumers are increasingly buying brands they feel an emotional connection with – brands that have a story to tell and that do it in a compelling way. With our rich Cuban heritage, Havana Club has plentiful stories to tell and we are looking forward to sharing them with Havana Club fans around the world in the months and years to come. If the trade embargo between Cuba and the US is lifted, there would definitely be a strong opportunity for Havana Club in the US.

Jordi Keysper: It’s true they have started to open the market, but it will not be quick. It will take two to three years to start to do some interesting business. Of course, Cuban rum will be an interesting business because they are proud of their products and the quality of these products. The leading Cuban rum (Havana Club) will lead this trading because it has more muscle to do it. The rest of the brands will follow, trying to achieve some market share.

Peter Holland: As much as I’d like to see the rum category jump forward in terms of sales, it’s not going to happen. With authentic Cuban rum entering the market it’s inevitable that some rum brands will lose out. It’s a shame, but the United States is afraid that something new, something Cuban and something exciting will ensure a slash in sales elsewhere. Perhaps a cull of the weakest is a good thing though?

If and when Cuba is open for business it will open the Cuban market up and create new demand for existing suppliers

BJ: Absolutely. I expect any major international beverage alcohol vendor who does not have a standard mixing and/or sipping rum in its portfolio to go to Cuba and contract distillers to create a Cuban rum brand, particularly with how the rum market is already growing at the luxury levels. I would expect small companies and even large companies to organise themselves and get into the Cuban rum business.

NB: Yes, and the positive image of Cuban rum in the US and the eagerness of the bartenders to serve it suggests a bright future for this category. The US market is the world’s first premium rum market so the challenge is enormous for Cuban rum and especially for Havana Club.

JK: I think the opening of the Cuban market will arrive first in the Hispanic zones such as Miami and Los Angeles. Then, of course, metropolitan zones that can use Cuban rum for cocktails such as Mojitos. I’m not sure if it will create new demand.

PH: For sure. We’ll be told that the brands are ready and that standards won’t drop. Of course I’m concerned that quality will drop in order to ‘stretch’ the rum just that little bit further. A number of brands don’t sell themselves based on a numerical age statement, preferring the ‘we blend to a flavour profile’ approach. This may be true, but I’ll be looking to compare and contrast over the next few years just to see how that pans out in reality.

Keywords: rum

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