BGIS PRESS RELEASE
By Theresa Blackman
There might be a window of opportunity for Caribbean rum products to make greater strides within the United States market.
Industry Minister, Donville Inniss, disclosed “that as recently as last November”, he lobbied before the U.S. Congress on behalf of local rum manufacturers to “level the playing field”, as the rum industry has been under immense pressure due to the high level of taxes imposed on their items going into the United States.
He said this was further compounded by the fact that the U.S. administration provides a subsidy to the industry which they call a ‘cover over’, where U.S. rum manufacturers, in particular Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, receive a high level of subsidies, thus placing local rum products at a disadvantage.
Speaking at phase two of the Rums of Barbados Master Mix Competition at the Bagnall Point Gallery this morning, Minister Inniss stated that “in order to achieve this it means that we must [always] have products that are export ready”.
He said: “…It means that greater attention must not only go to what is in the bottles, the quality of the rum therein but also the style of the bottles, the labelling, all of those things that capture the eye readily. And, I want to commend those who have worked so diligently over the last couple of years to ensure that Barbados’ rum is well packaged and appropriately labelled, [so] that we can really now truly hold our own with any spirit coming from any part of the world.”
Commending organisers of the competition for utilising local resources, Mr. Inniss emphasised that there was an abundance of talent in this country “that we are really beginning to harness”.
He told participants: “I really want to urge you the mixologists to continue the good work you are doing. You are at the forefront, you are the ones that the tourists interact with more readily, you are the ones who ought to know the history of rum and should be able to sell that story to the tourists who come before your bars…”
Stating that as Barbadians we should feel “proud” of our rum products, Mr. Inniss pointed out that people travel “far and wide to come here to enjoy what is so uniquely Barbadian”.
In addition, the Minister noted that as we continue to unravel our challenges in this economy, we must recognise that we have to earn and save more foreign exchange. He said one of the ways of saving is, therefore, making greater use of what we produce here in this country, including the spirits of Barbados.