Cuban Cigar producer Habanos says its cigar sales grew rapidly in 2023 to USD 721million dollars

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Jorge Pérez, the Commercial Vice President of Habanos SA, Cuba’s principal tobacco exporter, has said that sales of the joint venture’s cigars rose by 31% to US$721mn in 2023.  He spoke in Havana during the twenty-fourth annual Habano Festival, attended by more than 2,900 participants from 108 countries this year.

According to other Habanos executives, the growth largely reflected market recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing demand globally for “limited and exclusive” high-end editions.  It also responded, they said, to strong growth in global demand in the luxury market for premium cigars.

Speaking to the media on the margins of the festival, José María López, Habanos’ Vice President for Development, said that the outcome reflected the strong positioning strategy that had been developed for the company’s brands, its policy of permanent innovation, including the launch of 31 new products, and improvements to its supply chain. By value, he said, the company’s most important market was China, followed by Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and the UK. In the Americas, the principal markets were Mexico, Canada, and Cuba. Habanos sales by region were Europe (56%), followed by Asia-Pacific (21%), the Americas excluding the US (13%), and  Africa and the Middle East (10%).

Separately, Luis Blanco, the Agricultural Director of the Tabacuba business group, confirmed that the present planting campaign for the 2024-25 harvest will see about 14,000 hectares planted from which some 20,000 tons of tobacco will be obtained, guaranteeing the industry’s production plans for 2025. He said that the province of Pinar del Río, Cuba’s largest producer, will plant 10,200 hectares of tobacco, with yields expected to be between 1.37 and 1.4 tons per hectare. In the case of covered tobacco, the best leaf comes from Cuba’s premium cigars, and he confirmed there are no problems with planting.

As reported previously (Cuba Briefing 19 February 2024), Tabacuba is now concentrating on having farmers with the best historical results plant in the best soil in the Vueltabajo tobacco massif to achieve the optimum outcome. In mid-February, Granma quoted a local official saying that the supplies and fuel necessary for growers to conclude the campaign had been received.

It additionally quoted Tabacuba as indicating that full recovery of the industry’s infrastructure will take at least two years. The 2024-2025 harvest envisages 14,000 ha under tobacco, a figure still below that when Hurricane Ian crossed the Western end of Cuba in 2022. Farmers unable to plant smoking tobacco are encouraged to engage with a Tabacuba programme to grow other crops.

Habanos SA is a 50/50 joint venture between the Cuban state and Asia Uni Corp, a BVI-registered company reportedly bringing together a consortium of Asian investors.

The Caribbean Council can provide further details about all of the stories in the Cuba Briefing. If you would like a more detailed insight into today’s issue’s content, please get in touch.

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