Cuban cigars, the best in the world and one of the island’s traditional exports, along with sugar and rum, are making their mark in the global market, with a record 500,000,000 USD - at constant exchange rates - in sales at the end of 2017, as was announced during the 20th Habano Festival, taking place February 26 through March 2 in Havana.
During the Festival’s inaugural press conference in Havana’s International Convention Center, Leopoldo Cintras González, commercial vice president of Habanos S.A., the exclusive distributor of all Cuban cigar brands throughout the world, noted that the figure represents a 12% increase as compared to 2016.
He stated that the company sold 450 million cigars last year, with a market share of 70% in units and 80% in value.
Cintras González went on to explain that a good tobacco harvest is expected this 2018 given that “The sector was not affected by the passing of hurricane Irma along the island; while our strategy is geared toward maximizing yields and the quality of tobacco for export.”
In this regard, Justo Luis Fuentes Díaz, president of the Tabacuba Tobacco Group, speaking exclusively with Granma International, stated that the tobacco planting campaign in the country is advancing positively.
“We planted around 28,000 hectares of the aromatic leaf during the last campaign and plan to reach 29,000 for this 2017-2018 harvest, with planting still going on,” he stated, noting that this increase is part of a development program drawn up by the entity which became a Central Organization of Enterprise Management (OSDE) in March 2016.
In this regard, Fuentes noted that so far prospects look good, and that the company is working to continue increasing yields, key to raising tobacco production in Cuba.
This 20th edition of the Habano Festival, dedicated to prestigious cigar brands like Cohiba with its Robusto Reserva 2014 Harvest vitola; and Partagás, with its No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 Mature lines; saw the participation of over 2,000 delegates from more than 70 countries, in excess of 200 journalists as well as 184 expositors from 114 nations in the associated Trade Fair including Italy; Canada; Germany; Spain; France; Brazil; China; Mexico; El Salvador; Costa Rica; Colombia; Bolivia; and Cuba; with the largest number of international attendees to date.
Other launches held during the Festival dedicated to Cuban habanos, a term which refers to premium quality hand-rolled cigars from the island, included those by brands Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo Río Seco and Vegueros Centrofinos, as well as limited edition Romeo y Julieta Tacos, Bolívar Soberano, H. Upmann Propios, Hoyo de Monterrey Escogidos and San Cristóbal Prado cigars.
For a week, participants have been enjoying Cuban culinary and cultural offers, visits to tobacco farms in the western province of Pinar del Río and cigar factories, seminars on the history of tobacco, a cigar rolling master class and the 17th edition of the International Habanosommelier contest, during which four competitors from Italy, the UK, Russia and Cuba saw their knowledge put to the test as they were tasked with pairing habanos to different beverages and dishes.
The 20th Habano Festival, the most famous event dedicated to Premium hand-rolled cigars in the world, was also a moment to promote this exclusive product whose top markets include Spain; France; China, including Hong Kong and Macao; Germany; Cuba – the birthplace of the habano – ; Switzerland; Lebanon; the United Arab Emirates; the UK; and Canada, in that order.
Habanos S.A., founded in 1994, operates as a joint venture between Imperial Tobacco Group plc and Cuban state enterprise Cubatabaco, and is present in 165 countries across five continents, while over 90% of global revenue comes from international sales.