WIRSPA Welcomes New Members and Calls for Festival Restraint

The West Indies Rum Producers Association (WIRSPA) – the grouping of Caribbean rum producers, last week welcomed several new members into the WIRSPA ‘family’ at their annual general meeting (AGM).

The association, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, welcomed St. Vincent Distillers representing St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a full member, and the Bahamas Distilling Company, representing the Bahamas, as an associate member. WIRSPA members also welcomed Copal Tree Distillery of Belize to the Belize Rum Association.

Chairman Komal Samaroo stated, “Our growth in membership with Grenada, Haiti and Belize becoming full members last year, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines this year, as well as the re-entry of the Bahamas into WIRSPA, is evidence of the increasing relevance of the association to the industry in the region. Producers see a clear advantage in being part of a grouping that shares common rules, a philosophy of quality and authentic provenance, and strength in numbers.”

The producers, also recognising the relaxation of covid restrictions and the return of festivals in the region, underscored the urgent need for additional messaging to consumers on reducing harmful and excessive drinking.

WIRSPA Director for Barbados and Head of Mount Gay Distilleries, <strong>Raphael Grisoni</strong> said, “<em>As we approach the festival season, the producers in Barbados agree that it is critical to make the responsible drinking message front and centre of our marketing around this period. We want consumers to have a safe and enjoyable experience, with our products</em>.”

WIRSPA Director for Barbados and Head of Mount Gay Distilleries, Raphael Grisoni said, “As we approach the festival season, the producers in Barbados agree that it is critical to make the responsible drinking message front and centre of our marketing around this period. We want consumers to have a safe and enjoyable experience, with our products.”

According to Grisoni, “I’m so pleased to see that most our members have now upgraded product labels with advisory logos against underage drinking, drinking and driving and drinking during pregnancy.” Many others, he added, were also including serving size information – number of servings per bottle and calories per serving – which were required to be printed in large type to guarantee that the information is conspicuous and legible.

The producers from across the Caribbean exchanged views on domestic and international trade and market developments, and especially discussed the challenges raised by the rapidly increasing price of raw materials, energy and packaging.

Grisoni said, “A shortage of the standard glass bottles normally available from regional suppliers, as well as delays in sourcing the high quality and bespoke designs needed for our premium products, are also causing major production and export challenges.”

WIRSPA CEO Vaughn Renwick confirmed that major input costs, including molasses and fuel, have risen considerably, in some cases by more than 50%, and said, “Further increases seem set to continue as post-Covid demand for molasses grows, exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. These issues were placing a significant resource strain on producers.”

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