Supporting the Caribbean Rum Sector
The specific objective of the programme was to enhance the long-term competitiveness of rum producers while complying with environmental standards. The expected results were an improvement in producer’s potential to operate efficiently and with market and environmental requirements, a transition from bulk commodities to branded and value-added rums, and solidification of the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association (WIRSPA). The main components were a cost-sharing grant scheme of €46 million to support plant upgrading, waste treatment, quality improvement, training and business services, support for marketing efforts including the creation of a common brand, co-financing support for brand promotion and strengthening of the WIRSPA.
The disbursement amounted to €58 million of an overall initial budget of €70 million. Co-financing from the sector amounted to over €68 million. WIRSPA was beneficiary and in charge of the implementation of the programme. The rum and cane spirit market grew by 67% in the period 2003-2008, from US$296 to over US$500 million. Exports increased by 106%, from US$111 to US$229 million in the same period, while “branded” exports grew by 179%, from US$51 to US$144 million. WIRSPA has been strengthened with the new membership of producers from Dominican Republic, Haiti, Belize, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Key achievements and indicators are the introduction of 18 new brands and 38 brand variants to the EU market, the level of employment of participating companies maintained at 6,000 people, a 20% increase in direct female employment in the sector since 2003, an undertaking of 20 waste treatment projects by 15 companies in 12 countries, an undertaking of 11 energy and conservation projects in 8 countries, a 40% increase in tax revenues (approximately $250 million), a 140% increase in the number of tourists visiting rum facilities since 2003, the registration and approval for use of the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque by 15 companies.