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Havana Club Sales Up

Sales of Cuba’s flagship rum, Havana Club, rose fifteen percent last year as the brand rebounded from a sluggish 2009.

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Havana Club International, formed in 1993 as a partnership between Cuba’s state-run rum monopoly and French wine and spirits maker Pernod Ricard SA, posted sales of 3.8 million cases in 2010, Cuba Ron SA legal adviser Arian Remedios told Cuban news agency Prensa Latina in comments published late Monday.

That is up from 3.3 million cases in 2009 and better than the previous high of 3.4 million in 2008. The company is projecting 4 million cases this year.

Remedios did not give a dollar figure for sales. Each case contains about 2.4 gallons (9 liters) of liquor.

Europe was the leading market with 57 percent of sales, followed by 31 percent in Cuba, 11 percent elsewhere in Latin America and 1 percent in Asia, Prensa Latina reported.

Washington’s decades-old trade embargo against the island prohibits sales of Cuban Havana Club rum in the United States.

Cuba has said in the past that it could increase production to ship 1 million cases to its northern neighbor if the sanctions are lifted, though a trademark dispute would complicate that.

In late March, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Pernod’s claim to the Havana Club brand was not valid in the United States because it concerns a trademark used by a business that was nationalized by the Cuban government.

Competitor Bacardi uses the Havana Club name in the U.S. for rum produced in Puerto Rico.

Pernod, which said it would appeal, has jousted with Bacardi for years over the label, alleging deceptive advertising of the non-Cuban rum.

Since the Cuban government and Pernod teamed up in 1993, Havana Club has averaged about 15 percent annual growth before the global economic downturn led to a 3 percent slide in 2009.