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1.1 Definition and presentation

Rum is an alcoholic beverage obtained through the fermentation and distillation of its main ingredient: sugar cane. Sugar cane is a tropical plant whose sucrose is used as a raw material in the food and beverage industry. First records of rum date back to the first half of the XVII century in West Indies, when African slaves discovered molasses – an ingredient generated during the process of sugar refinement- could ferment into alcohol. In no time the popularity of the drink reached North America and not long after that it became one of the most profitable industries of New England. Today rum’s most important ingredient – sugar cane – is the world’s largest crop by production quantity.

Rum can be consumed at home or out of home and as a drink or used in the kitchen. There are different typologies of rum, the three macro categories identifiable are:

  • White rum
  • Dark rum
  • Spicy rum

Consumption of rum in Italy is expected to be influenced by a series of changing social, demographic and economic factors, such as aging population or increasing interest towards premiumization. Parallelly, rum expansion faces a number of challenges on the Italian territory, especially deriving from alternative beverages (e.g. famous liquors or grappa) and decreasing alcohol consumption.

1.2 The impact of rum worldwide

A look into the spirits market

Breakdown by region highlights the weight of the north America region on international sales of spirits, with a **% predominance, followed by Western Europe (***). [***]

Source: ****

Whereas a segmentation by category demonstrates the relevance of white spirits and rums, which occupy first place with a **% weight on ...

1.3 Italian rum consumption

Source: ****

According to Agriculture and Agri food Canada, the annual sales turnover of rum in Italy is expected to reach USD *.** billion by ****, following the slight decrease in the five years before. The positive forecast is driven by a changing society, one dominated by a progressive search for premium quality and ...

1.4 International trade

UN Comtrade provides information on exchange of goods or services among countries, in terms of value and volume.

In **** both export and import of “rum and tafia” grew impressively compared to the previous year, respectively by **% and **%. The import value in **** exclusively from the United States (***) was bigger than the total ...


2.1 Changing alcohol consumption in Italy

In Italy according to Osservatorio Federvini in **** the consumption of spirits amounted to *.* million hectoliters, a decrease compared to the last five years, the number, indeed, is the result of a negative CAGR of *.*% in the period ****-****. Reasons behind these figures can be found in changing needs and different consumption ...

2.2 Determining factors: premiumization, cyclicity, complementary products


A tendency that is globally affecting consumers’ demand, expectation and consequently satisfaction in a number of industries is the so-called “premiumization”. Eurmonitor refers to the latter as the tendency to emphasize a product superiority and uniqueness - a megatrend which will be pushing economies towards different positionings in order to ...


3.1 Highly concentrated alcohol market

The spirits market in Italy is highly concentrated, indeed, there are three companies that combined hold circa **,*% of the total market.

First place goes to Campari, with a **,*% share, which is higher than the combination of the other two giants – Diageo (***).

Source: ****

3.2 A recovering production of sugarcane spirits

Italian production of spirits has an estimated value of *.* million in ****, corresponding to a *% increase compared to the previous year. The growth is considerable although the figure itself represents a small portion of the total European production of spirits (***). [***]

Within the spirits market, rum does not play a fundamental role, as ...

3.3 Rum off-trade versus on-trade

Business to Business

Production and manufacturing take place in a different company, which in a later stage, once the product is complete, sells it to retailers.

Business to Consumer

Production and manufacturing take place in the same company that handles the client interaction and sales.

The most popular channels in the ...


4.1 The journey to rum

First phases

The production of rum starts at the very root of its main raw material: sugarcane. Although rum can be distinguished in two varieties on the basis of the ingredient, the initial journey is the same for both. The sugarcane is harvested by hand and consequently crushed by a machine, ...

4.2 Rum price influenced by increasing interest

Rum at its origin was identified with a low-class spirit, it was the alcohol of slaves and pirates. Today through, due to premiumization of brands and changing consumer tastes, rum has become a mid-priced beverage. [***]. A factor that seems to be influencing the increasing interest towards higher priced verities of rum ...


5.1 Rum regime

For the production of spirits, EU countries are subject to the (***) N. ***/****, which gives specificities on the ingredients of rum, the labelling and the geographical origins.

For the distribution and commercial sale, national legislation comes into play, in the general context of the distribution of alcohol on the Italian territory. Norms ...

5.2 Excise regulation

In Europe specific goods are subject to the excise duty, alcohol being among those. Excise duty is an indirect tax that is therefore applied on the production or consumption of certain products (***). the excise generally is applied when those categories of goods are produced or imported in the EU.

Excise duty ...


6.1 Segmentation

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chargé d'études économiques, Xerfi

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Mathieu Luinaud

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