Venezuela's largest rum manufacturer, C.A. Ron Santa Teresa, is expecting 5% growth in sales in 2002, despite Venezuela's current difficult economic situation.

Executive President Alberto Vollmer told just-drinks that the company is also expecting market share to grow from 42% to 47%.

Vollmer said the company was confident its "improved distribution, better promotion and a sounder portfolio strategy" would deliver results in 2002.

Santa Teresa believes the Venezuelan rum market will benefit this year from the strength of the dollar, which will make imported products such as whisky more expensive.

Venezuela's rum producers have suffered in recent years from consumers' preference for imported premium brands that have more social status.