Barbados Rum Festival, Industry In Jeopardy

BarbadosThe Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival invites visitors to enjoy cooking demonstrations from a lineup of international and Bajan chefs, wine and rum tastings and pairings from wine and spirits experts. Sound like a good time? Better go this year. Barbados and other Caribbean islands may be out of the rum business before long, and for an unexpected reason.

“Any discussion about rum is a discussion about Barbados, and vice versa,” says the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival on its website. “It’s been an integral part of the island nation’s heritage, history, and economy for over 350 years.”

Indeed, Barbados is known for some of the finest rum in the Caribbean if not in the world. Packed with over 1,500 rum shops on the 166 square miles of island, the island’s rum industry is facing stiff competition from U.S. government subsidized rum industries in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

U.S. subsidized rum makers are paying $20 per ton for molasses, a key ingredient in rum, while Barbados and other Caribbean manufacturers are paying over $200 per ton.

“We find that extremely difficult to compete [with] and it is a challenge at this point in time,” said Dr. Frank Ward, Chairman of the Barbados Rum Committee in a Barbados Advocate report.

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles with a population of about 284,000, of which 80,000 live in or near the popular cruise port of Bridgetown.

This year’s Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival is a go and many events are sold out.
Hosted by Travel + Leisure magazine, the festival runs November 16 – 19, 2012.



[Photo Credit: Whitney Owen]