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Cuba's Havana Club rum could soon hit US shores after more than a half-century of embargo

Published 19/05/2015

Above: Havana Club range. Improvement in relations means more Cuban products could come to US markets
Above: Havana Club range. Improvement in relations means more Cuban products could come to US markets

Pernod Ricard could soon be the first to sell Cuban-made Havana Club rum in the US after more than a half-century of being banned from doing so due to the trade embargo.

With relations improving between the US and Cuba, the spiced Caribbean libation could soon come to US liquor stores and bars, and possibly challenge Bacardi International, which actually was founded in Cuba.

Havana Club rum was created in Cuba in 1934 and is one of the best-selling rums in the world. Since 1994 it has been produced in Cuba and sold globally (except in the US) by Havana Club International, a 50:50 joint venture between Pernod Ricard and the Cuban government.

Pernod’s CEO has indicated that the company has grand plans should the embargo be lifted and would focus on more than just familiar Cuban markets in south Florida.

“If the embargo is lifted, we could gain access to an enormous market and a substantial growth booster for the coming years,” Jerome Cottin-Bizonne, CEO of Pernod Ricard's Havana Club, told Reuters.

Mr Cottin-Bizonne estimates that the US market could increase sales by as much as 20 million bottles per years, or 1.7 million cases, about a 50 per cent increase in current sales. For comparison, Bacardi sells about 9 million cases of its white rum in the US and Pernod’s own Malibu brand sells about 1.9 million cases.

Around the world, Pernod’s rum brand is called “Havana Club”, but it would have to change its name in the US, as Bacardi already has the US rights to “Havana Club”. The company has said it will call itself “Havanista”.

While relations between the US and Cuba have been improving over the past few months, it is not clear if and when the embargo will be lifted.

Source: Independent

Independent News Service

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