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EU Rum Project finances Distillery blending and ageing facilities in Barbados
Web Posted - Fri Jul 20 2007
THE European Union through the Integrated Development Programme for the ACP Caribbean Rum Sector project has provided 1.5 million euros (BDS$4M; EC$5.4M) to assist Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd. with the relocation and construction of blending and ageing facilities at one location.

The project was officially opened by Barbados Prime Minister, Owen Arthur Wednesday, while Head of the European Commission Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Amos Tincani, was also in attendance.

At present Mount Gay Distilleries blending facilities are located at Brandons, Spring Garden, while the ageing facilities are located at Melrose, Edgehill, St. Thomas. The company is proposing to relocate these at one location in St. Lucy, next door to its rum supplier, the Rum Refinery of Mount Gay Ltd., a separate and independent company.

The relocation of the blending and ageing facilities will reduce operating inefficiencies since at present the rum is produced by the independent rum refinery at St. Lucy (north of the island) and sent in tankers to the Brandons facility in Bridgetown (18 miles away) to be barreled. The barrels are then transported to the ageing facilities. Once the rum has reached maturation, they are once again transported back to the Brandons facility for blending and bottling.

The new St. Lucy facility will include: a blending and coopers warehouse; three purpose-built ageing warehouses with a capacity of 12 000 barrels each; a tank farm for the storage of alcohol, for barrel filling and the preparation of the blended product; and a test laboratory.

By the end of June 2007, under the Integrated Development Programme for the ACP Caribbean Rum Sector, 212 projects had been approved under the four grant support windows. This amounts to a total investment in projects of approximately 46.5 million euros (BDS$123M; EC$167M). Of this investment the total co-financing grant commitment has been approximately 15.7 million euros. A meeting of the Programmes steering Committee, scheduled for 19th July, is expected to consider a further 3.84 million euros (BDS$10M; EC$13.5M) worth of grants.

The majority of the projects approved, 99, are for new equipment and upgrading of physical plant, with the remainder being equally divided between business development services (training, quality, technical studies and research into waste treatment options); and marketing and promotional activities .

The Integrated Development Programme for the ACP Caribbean Rum Sector provides funding of 70 million euros (BDS$185M; EC$250M) from the European Community, matched by co-financing from the sector of some 88 million euros (BDS$233; EC$315). The Programme which began in late 2002 and was expected to end on 30 June 2007 was last year extended until 30 June 2010. Following this extension the percentage grant portion for modernisation, capital investment, business development services, distribution and marketing was increased to 50 per cent, while various cumulative limits allowed per distillery were also raised. This longer duration extension will give producers more time in which to implement substantial projects to upgrade their facilities for rum distillation; ageing; blending and bottling; to improve and build waste treatment facilities and environmental management systems; for training and upgrading of skills; and to market their products in the European market.

It will also provide more time for the implementation of the Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque, a common seal of authenticity which has been developed under the auspices of the Programme to enhance the image and provide support to the marketing of ACP Caribbean rum in Europe and elsewhere.

The Integrated Development Programme for the ACP Caribbean Rum Sector should be seen in the wider context of EC support to the region, as it strives to adapt to a more competitive global environment.

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