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Rum sales leap 7% in the on-trade

Published:  03 March, 2020

Sales of rum in the UK on-trade rose 7% year-on-year in 2019, according to the latest data from food-and-drink research analysts CGA.

The number of consumers drinking rum in the on-trade was also up by 10% and has broken through the five-million barrier for the first time.

Growth has been led by demand for new flavoured and spiced rums rather than the traditional dark, white or golden varieties, and by the drink’s popularity in cocktails or with mixers such as colas.

Spirits sales were up 6.2% overall, led by gin, which has tripled its on-trade sales in the last five years. Brandy was up 3.1% in 2019 and whisky up 0.9%, while vodka fell back slightly by 0.4%. Sales of wine were likewise down 0.6% year on year.

Phillip Montgomery, client director at CGA, said: “These figures show how rum is an increasingly popular choice for consumers on spirit and cocktail menus.

“Sales have got a long way to go to match the stellar performance of gin, but its variety and versatility makes rum a major growth opportunity for operators and suppliers in 2020 and beyond.”

More detailed research from CGA suggests there are a range of un-tapped opportunities for rum producers in the marketplace.

While rum drinkers have an average of 4.6 brands in their repertoire, only 1.7 of those are premium brands, suggesting significant room for premium-brand expansion.

The principal driver on purchase in the on-trade is price, with that being the deciding factor for 40% of rum consumers, followed by brand loyalty on 34% and visibility on the back bar at 29%.

Moreover, there is currently very limited consumer appreciation of rum’s potential variety as a drink offer. Some 83% of rum drinkers choose to mix it with either cola or diet cola, with very little awareness of its pairing with other mixers, such as juice or ginger ale, or of the attractions of drinking it neat.

Montgomery added: “Compared to some categories, rum consumers are fairly limited in the number of brands they use and the ways they drink it. If operators and suppliers can educate and inspire people about the potential of rum, we could well see more and more people trading up and experimenting.

“But with many operators expanding their cocktail and mixer selections, it’s becoming a very competitive arena, and brands are going to have stay right on top of their ranging, pricing and serving strategies to generate drinkers’ loyalty.”

CGA picked rum as one of its key on-trade trends for 2020, as Harpers reported in January.