Vice Chairperson Policy,
Advocacy and Projects
Commonwealth Youth Council
Kiran Akal, CEO, SMAKS Luxury Group is confident that his local Chai Rum creation will continue to break into new international markets.
Akal, the nephew of Nobel laureate VS Naipaul, boasts that his Chai Rum is the first real innovation in the spirits industry over the last 100 years.
“This rum is a SMAKS product. Although we are working and outsourcing how we do things, Chai Rum is our product. We chose our home turf of T&T to blend our products and under a strict confidentiality agreement with Trinidad Distillers Ltd, we are using a blend of special reserve rum and we are blending that to create the Chai Rum with a secret blend of teas and spices that goes into the post-infusion process. We are keeping how it is produced a trade secret,” told the Business Guardian.
The SMAKS Group has been around for 35 years and Akal has been involved in consulting as a creative director for governments and large international firms such as the Walt Disney Company and the governments of Spain, France and Sweden.
Akal spoke to the Business Guardian last week Wednesday at SMAKS Boutique, Valpark Shopping Plaza, Valsayn.
In speaking about the successes of breaking into new markets, Akal said he got a lot of help from Ministry of Trade and Investment and other export bodies.
“We had a prototype run of the product after i2i —Idea 2 Innovation—and through the Ministry of Trade and its ExporTT and Caribbean Export. We were invited to a few shows. We previewed it at the Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) show at the Hyatt hotel in Trinidad in 2013. I was not a member of the T&T Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA), but I joined it in September. Then ExporTT invited us to the New York Summer Fancy Food Show and my company had been selected. That was July 2013. The response was amazing there for our Chai Rum.”
Akal said many big international companies have approached SMAKS, that the product is “on fire” because of growing interest.
“We were approached by the German financing arm of Caribbean Export at TIC. They invited us to Anuga in Germany, which is the largest food fair in the world, and we accepted and were there in October. Chai Rum was picked up for all of Scandinavia. We have conversations going on for Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy, but we have already signed the deal for Scandinavia.”
Chai Rum is set to enter the American market.