EU grant of €70m puts wind in the sails of Caribbean rum

27 July, 2007

The European Union is boosting the rum category with a €70 million grant to Caribbean producers.

As part of an eight-year programme to boost rum sales, the EU has set aside €14.7 million for modernisation of ­distilleries, €21.7 million for marketing, €9.8 million for waste treatment and €3.5 million to help small companies develop business plans.

The West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association has also been allocated €2.1 million to help run the programme, which includes launching a major generic rum campaign in the UK.

The move has raised some eyebrows in the UK among gin and whisky producers who feel they may be more deserving of European support.

Yet publicly the plan has been met with a muted response from the trade.

According to Nielsen data for the year to April 21, gin's off-trade sales are some £70 million ahead of rum, but the gap could narrow with promotional support.

John Corbet-Milward, head of technical and international affairs at the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said the EU had recognised the need for Caribbean rum producers to improve the international competitiveness of their products.

"The issue was that unless they receive development help they would be at a disadvantage in a global marketplace and put out of business by the big players in the countries outside the Caribbean. That argument was accepted by the EU," he said.

Rum feature, pages 39-40.

How sales compare

Blended and malt whisky £858m

Gin £251m

Rum £182m

Source: Nielsen off-trade figures for year to April 21 2007

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