Caribbean rum industry commends Jamaican rum icons

Caribbean rum industry commends Jamaican rum icons

Friday, December 20, 2019

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Caribbean rum industry leaders who recently met in Jamaica paid tribute to two retiring icons of the Jamaica rum industry – R Evon Brown, former head of National Rums of Jamaica, and Lloyd Forbes, former head of Jamaica Spirits Pool, for their combined service of over 110 years to the industry.

As former directors and chairmen of the Jamaica rum industry, as well as the regional industry grouping West Indies Rum and Spirit Producers Association (WIRSPA), both men were actively engaged with regional industry leaders to drive market entry of Caribbean rum into the US, Canadian and European markets.

A recent release noted that the contribution of both men was critical “to market access negotiations for rum within the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), Lomé and CaribCan arrangements and paved the way for expanding the industry and building strong regional brands”.

In recognising the tremendous contribution made by these two stalwarts, the new head of the Jamaica Spirits Pool and Jamaica Rum & Spirits Trade Association, Clement “Jimmy” Lawrence, also chairman of J Wray & Nephew Ltd offered high commendations to the gentlemen.

“Much is owed to these two trailblazers for Jamaica rum. Under their stewardship, regional and Jamaican producers have benefited both materially and by additional market access in our most important markets. This is an achievement of great significance to the entire region,” he added. “As the new representative for Jamaica in the regional WIRSPA grouping, I will do my utmost best to ensure that this tradition of collaboration is strengthened towards building an internationally competitive industry,” he said.

Brown was highlighted for his high involvement in bringing US$80- million grant funding to the industry between 2002 – 2010, which saw investments in equipment upgrades, better environmental management, and a marketing programme for Caribbean rum in the US, Canada and Europe.

The Jamaican distilleries were also able to receive $10 million in grants as part of this modernisation programme.

Forbes, on the other hand, outside of his work as head of the local spirit pool was also the former head of several distilleries. He was applauded for chairing the WIRSPA technical committee and for providing many years of invaluable expert support to modernisation efforts, particularly among smaller regional producers.

For their contributions, tokens of appreciation were given to both men by Komal Samaroo, WIRSPA chairman and head of the Guyana conglomerate Demerara Distillers who also extended his gratitude.

“The examples of Brown and Forbes epitomise the spirit of cooperation that has been the hallmark of the regional industry and underpinned its success.” Noting that the industry faces many domestic and international challenges, he said “It behoves us to continue to strengthen our cooperation and face these challenges united, even while we may not always agree on everything,” he said.

— Kellaray Miles

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