Creating transparency into the supply of drinks is made difficult by the long international supply chains that branch into several different directions. Often the products end up on the consumers table through a number of middlemen. Even when there’s a will there is not always a way to thoroughly investigate where the ingredients of the end product originate from.
A typical rum supply chain consists of many different tiers and the raw ingredients are sourced from multiple primary producers. Traceability becomes even more cumbersome due to, among other things, complicated ownership arrangements. Everything begins at the sugar cane plantations where sugar cane is harvested to be sent to sugar producer. Sugar producer presses juice out of sugar cane or produces molasses out from residues. Molasses are widely used as raw ingredient in other than so-called agricole rums. Before the molasses end up at the distillery there may be a middleman, a raw ingredient broker that sells molasses to distilleries. From the distillery the product may continue directly to the producer’s own or a licensed bottling factory. Another ordinary arrangement is that distillate is sold from the distillery through various middlemen. These agents may provide services from freight between markets to mixing distillates and bottling; or to sell their refined rum mixes to brand owners, who handle the bottling and selling to importers. Finally, rum is purchased to Alko from the importers.
As there are so many tiers it is challenging to verify where the raw ingredients of rum come from. Nevertheless, achieving clarity to this is elementary because the ethical problems present in the rum industry take place specifically in the primary production at the sugar cane plantations.