2021, the year of recovery for rum

After a year 2020 strongly marked by the covid, with a collapse of the sales in CHR and in export but a good behaviour of the sales in mass distribution, the 2021 vintage stands out by a beautiful increase on all these segments. However, the on-trade remains a little weak due to the same old virus.

Excellence Rhum Boutique Paris

After analysing the figures for 2021 with Thomas Gauthier from the French Spirits Federation, we will take a step back and try to dissect rum trends over the last 15 years with a cross interview with Christian de Montaguère, Freddy Lucina and Alexandre Beudet.

The annual publication of the Bilan économique 2021 (Economic Report 2021) by the French Spirits Federation is an opportunity to take stock of the trends in the rum market and to put them into perspective. According to the FFS, rums are doing well, representing 14% of spirits sold in supermarkets and hypermarkets (GMS), an increase of +6.6% in volume. In value, rums represent 14.2% (+3.08%).

“In 2017, the rum segment represented only 27.7 million litres sold. It has therefore grown by 42% in 6 years”, says Thomas Gauthier, General Manager of the French Spirits Federation. In 2021, the rum segment generated a GD turnover of 730 million, compared to 441 million euros in 2016.”

French rums still in the majority in supermarkets

If we go into a little more detail, we notice that rums originating in France remain in the majority, representing 28 million litres sold in supermarkets in 2021, compared to 10 million litres for imported rums. That is 39 million litres in all.

Thomas Gauthier
Thomas Gauthier, Managing Director of La Fédération Française des Spiritueux.

These figures should be put into perspective with the situation six years ago. In 2017, French rums sold 24 million litres and foreign rums, 3.7 million. From these figures it is possible to measure the extent to which imported rums have driven growth, since they have seen their weight triple while French rums have remained relatively stable.

However, it is wrong to say that they have stolen market share from French rums, since they too have grown, albeit less rapidly than rums from elsewhere.

The CHR still struggling

And in the on-trade (wine shops, hotels, restaurants…)? “According to the figures in my possession, which represent about 70% of the market, 2,600,000 litres were distributed in the traditional circuit in 2021, which represents an increase of +29.4%, reveals Thomas Gauthier.

However, the market is still impacted by the covid because in 2019 this figure was 3.6 million, so remains -27% lower than the reference year, which is however a better performance than other market segments since overall spirits are regressing by -31%. On the export market, things are a little more difficult, as rum represents only 2% of the value (which still represents an increase of +28%), and 4% of the volume.

It therefore remains far behind cognac which alone represents almost ⅓ of the volumes, but ⅔ of the 4.9 billion euros that France collects from exports thanks to its spirits.

Premiumisation, aromatisation, demand for local products…

In terms of trends in supermarkets, the FFS notes a strong premiumisation of the segment, the rise of flavoured rums, premiumisation, or products that seek to enhance a terroir, a territory, a recipe, an origin.

In the on-trade, premiumisation is also a very strong trend. Consumers are also looking for local products and advice,” analyses Thomas Gauthier. As a general rule, they will consume less wine or spirits on a daily basis (only 20% of French people are daily consumers compared to 20% 10 years ago), but will look for more premium products that they consume occasionally.

Spirits consumers are also more curious, more knowledgeable, and ready to spend more money on products with a cultural and gastronomic vocation.

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