Rum Producers Tackle Challenges to Competitiveness

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Thursday May 17, 2018 – Regional rum producers, members of the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers Association (WIRSPA), have been meeting to discuss a range of issues which impact the ability of the sector to achieve international competitiveness.

Speaking at a tasting of Authentic Caribbean Rums in Trinidad, WIRSPA chairman and head of the Guyana conglomerate Demerara Distillers (DDL), Komal Samaroo, noted that although the sector’s brands were positioned as high-quality products in the premium and super-premium segments of the market, many competing brands received incentives and subsidies which resulted in a highly unequal playing field.

And he said a key thrust for the sector is an international drive to protect authentic origin.

“Our brands are anchored in the unique history and heritage of our countries,” Samaroo pointed out, noting that “many so-called premium products are assembled from various origins, without any authenticity or true origin, and flouting rum rules.”

Referencing the decreasing availability of regional molasses, he added that producers were challenged with raw materials constraints on one end and facing subsidised products in the market at the other.

Referring to DDL efforts to support the local sugar industry in Guyana as a means of securing molasses supplies, he noted that several other producers were moving in the same direction. Those moves, he said, “can only redound to the benefit of our countries by maintaining employment in agriculture and increasing local value added”.

His sentiments were echoed by Chairman of Angostura, Dr Rolph Balgobin, who noted that his board had also tasked the management of Angostura to “provide an analysis of whether we should get into sugarcane production for the purpose of producing molasses.”

(Left to Right): Komal Samaroo, WIRSPA Chairman; Dr Rolph Balgobin, Chairman of Angostura Ltd.; Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Trade Paula Gopee-Scoon; Genevieve Jodhan, CEO of Angostura Ltd.; and Vaughn Renwick, WIRSPA CEO.

Trinidad’s Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, in her remarks, congratulated the sector on its achievement of world-class quality and drive for international competitiveness.

Noting that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) trade ministers had recently formed a special working group to examine factors impacting the competitiveness of the sector, she committed to working with colleague ministers and industry representatives to ensure that the industry receives the support it needs as the flagship export sector of the region.

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