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Pernod Eyes Big U.S. Opportunity For Cuban Rum Havanista

May 20, 2015

With the U.S. recently establishing full diplomatic relations with Cuba—opening the possibility of lifting the U.S. trade embargo against the Caribbean nation—Pernod Ricard is reportedly laying plans to launch its Havanista rum brand in the U.S. market. Jerome Cottin-Bizonne, CEO of Pernod’s Havana Club rum unit, told Reuters in recent days that the company could potentially sell 1.7 million cases of Cuban rum annually in the U.S. under the Havanista brand, which it registered in 2012. (While Pernod markets Havana Club rum globally through a joint venture with state-owned Cuba Ron, Bacardi Ltd. holds the Havana Club trademark in the U.S., where it sells a Puerto Rico-produced version of the brand in small quantities.)

Pernod recently invested $100 million in Cuba’s San Jose de las Lajas distillery, where it produces Havana Club, Reuters added. According to Impact Databank, Pernod sold 4 million cases of Havana Club globally in 2014, an increase of 3% compared with the prior year.

Bacardi, which was founded in Cuba before fleeing the country in the wake of the Castro revolution, is also monitoring developments in U.S.-Cuban relations closely. As company chairman Facundo Bacardi told Shanken’s Impact Newsletter in an exclusive interview last year, “Offering the world a Cuban-sourced Bacardi rum—it will happen. We see Cuba as our home. We have every intention of going back, rebuilding our business and helping the Cuban people.”

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