Economic Review 2020 : A roller coaster ride

Rum sales continue to rise, despite the pandemic and the downturn in the on-trade.

Bilan économique du rhum en 2020

In many ways, for the world of rum, the year 2020 has been the year of the roller coaster ride, or the emotional elevator. Producers, distributors, agents, restaurateurs, bartenders, wine merchants, supermarket managers, amateurs… professionals and individuals have lived with the jolts caused by the crisis of covid 19. And in the end, the picture, although contrasted, is quite positive for rum sales in France.

The supermarket distribution takes advantage of the windfall

From the first confinement in March 2020, supermarkets or supermarkets of proximity have drawn their pin because they were able to remain open, whereas some rum distribution channels had to lower the curtain.

The sales of rum bottles have indeed increased by 6.5% overall, with 31 537 000 liters sold. A good performance that hides a more complex reality. Thus, white rums, the largest provider of volumes in France, recorded a decline of 1% to 19 529 000 liters. A small point is enough to reduce the growth of the rum department, although boosted by all other categories: “darks” +9.9% to 3,229,000 liters, “spiced” +28.3% to 5,261,000 liters, old +20.3% to 1,743,000 and arrangés … +60.7% to 1,774 liters!

As for the brands, we note that Dillon (-4.1%) and Old Nick (-9.7%) are struggling. Among the losers of the 2020 vintage, we also find Havana Club at -7.2% and Bacardí at -2.3%. Among the big winners are Captain Morgan (+34.5%), Isautier (boosted by its arrangé) at +52.1%, still in Reunion Rivière du Mât (44.5% increase) and Martinique HSE at +29.6% …

Bilan économique du rhum en 2020

The RHC pulled down by the hotel and catering industry

In total, the fall is dizzying, -44.7%, or 3 740 066 liters sold. Most major brands losing between 20 and 50% of sales compared to 2019. These results seem at first glance very bad. But we must remember the context.

Hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs … have indeed remained completely closed for more than 5 months, and the rest of the time (except for a short period between June and October), have experienced many restrictions and health protocols. Nevertheless, although strategic in terms of image and discovery of consumption modes, the volumes sold by the CHR represent only 10% of the volumes sold by the mass distribution, which are up by more than 6%. Moreover, even if the wine shops were quickly considered as essential businesses, many of them remained closed throughout the first containment (eg Excellence Rhum in Paris).

Others reopened after a few weeks or very quickly but welcomed no one or nobody really the first few days. Most of them (generalists or rum specialists) admit that the year has been rather positive overall, with a surge in arrangés and spices during spring and summer, and a rush on fine bottles in the weeks preceding the end-of-the-year holidays.

Bilan économique du rhum en 2020

The Internet is booming

It is difficult to have the exact figures of rum sales on the Internet because they are not collected and consolidated anywhere.

But the trend that emerges is that of a very strong increase. Contacted in June 2020, general wine merchants with websites (and selling rum) such as the Cave du Marché in Chartres, Lavinia and the Repaires de Bacchus in Paris had noted an explosion of their online sales in April and May (increases in 2 or even 3 figures).

And as the year progressed, this trend continued throughout the year. The same is true for generalist wine and spirits sales sites, or pure players (Wineandco, Vinatis…). Among the sites specialized in rum, we also had a great year despite the covid 19 (or thanks to it). “From April we realized that consumers were making a lot of remote aperitifs and that they were making their own cocktails, says Alexandre Beudet, director of Excellence Rhum (website and wine merchant in Paris), our sales of aperitif rums (white, arrangés …) quickly represented more than 50% of the whole.

March, April and May were explosive. Things calmed down a bit between the two confinements, when it was again possible to consume rum in bars and restaurants. And after the first curfews and the second lockdown, the Christmas gift-giving period began with a sharp rise in high-end and/or cutting-edge bottles.Finally, if the volumes sold on the internet remain confidential when compared to sales in CHR or mass distribution, the year 2020 will undoubtedly be remembered as the year when many amateurs developed the habit of purchasing their bottles on the internet and having them delivered. This is most likely a long-term trend that we will continue to observe.

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