The International Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Published: February 25, 2009
HAVANA: A surge in overseas demand helped Cuba's Havana Club rum sell a record 3.4 million cases in 2008, a 13 percent increase from the previous year that came despite a global economic crisis, state media reported Wednesday.
Washington's 47-year-old trade embargo shuts the brand out of the United States, but Havana Club is offered in more than 120 countries and saw sales increase by more than 10 percent in 40 of them, Marc Beuve-Mery, general manager of Havana Club S.A., told government news agency Prensa Latina.
Cuba's domestic drinkers are the company's top market, but Prensa Latina cited Beuve-Mery in reporting that Germany alone saw a 26 percent increase in Havana Club sales to overtake Italy as the brand's top overseas consumer.
Spain, France, Greece, Chile and Russia are also leading overseas markets, Beuve-Mery said, though he did not discuss the company's earnings or profits for the year.
The Cuban government has produced rum under the Havana Club label since 1960 — the year after Fidel Castro and his bearded band of rebels toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista and seized power.
The brand has been available in international markets since 1993, when the government-run firm partnered with the French beverage company Pernod Ricard SA.