Rum set to be next big spirit in 2020

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Rum’s the word: while the overall rum market only grew marginally, excitement surrounds the category for 2020
Rum’s the word: while the overall rum market only grew marginally, excitement surrounds the category for 2020

Related tags: Spirits, Rum

Sales of dark and golden rums are on the rise as in the 12 months to June 2019, dark rums were worth £127m and golden rums £383m, according to a new report.

The Wine & Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) Market Report ​showed while Brits are not tiring of gin, there are signs they are keen to explore rum.

The report found gin had grown by 51% in volume and 52% in value, making gin sales in pubs, bars and restaurants worth more than £1.5bn.

Although the rum market grew by just 1% in the past 12 months, the WSTA said there are signs the category is evolving.

In total, UK consumers bought 35m bottles of rum in the 12 months to June 2019, worth £1bn with a third of these sales taking place in the on-trade.

White rum is the largest segment of the category, worth about £360m, sold 13.1m bottles to June 2019 – 300,000 fewer than in the 12 months to June 2018.

However, when looking at the flavoured, spiced and golden categories, things look more positive.

UK consumers bought more than 10m bottles of flavoured/spiced rum in the off-trade – a rise of 6% in volume, which the WSTA predicts will be the largest off-trade category of rum within the next 12 months.

For the on-trade, the WSTA said Brits’ willingness to experiment with new cocktails on a night out, which helped gin to become so popular, is also helping rum.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “Our latest Market Report ​numbers show gin is still king of the spirits category, in terms of growth and innovation.

“However, there are signs consumers are starting to become more adventurous when it comes to trying new rums.

“British consumers’ willingness to explore new drink experiences helped with the initial gin boom and we are starting to see some segments of the rum category benefit from a similar impact.

“It’s hard to make a case for anything other than 2019 as another year of gin but, maybe in 2020, we will see rum pulling out all the punches as the new rising star of spirits.

“We also see the spirits category benefited from a freeze in duty in the last Budget, allowing our great British distillers to invest and grow, and we will continue to make the case that spirits and wine should receive more favourable treatment after a new Government has formed.

“Some consumers will be surprised to hear 73% of the cost of an average bottle of spirits is taken up by tax.”

Majestic Wines trading director Robert Cooke outlined how the company is seeing a change in consumer habits.

He said: "We're already seeing customers, who have been brought into the category by gin, eagerly awaiting the new big thing in spirits.

“With the same focus on exciting flavours, on a sense of place and provenance, on educating customers – we're sure it's going to be rum. We're ramping up our listings accordingly; with flavoured and spiced styles in clear focus.

“Getting the product right is key. For instance, since we have switched our focus to a range centred on innovative flavours and provenance, we've seen an improved swing of 46% like-for-like in volume terms [this month]. It's clear that having a rum range isn't enough, it has to be the right one that really speaks to what consumers are looking for.

“Customers want a spirit they can connect with – not just with a mixer, but over a prolonged period of time. That includes a compelling story and ingredients list plus a seriousness and depth of flavour. The innovations in flavouring are really helping to broaden the category too. It’s a really exciting time for rum.”

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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