OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Cohiba, the most emblematic of Cuban cigars, accounted for 23% of Habanos S.A sales last year. Photo: Habanos S.A.

The president of Tabacuba (Cuba’s tobacco enterprise group), Justo Luis Fuentes Díaz, reported in a press conference that the Brazilian government has stepped back from its prohibition on sales of Cohiba cigars in that country.

Fuentes emphasized statements to Sputnik by Fernando Teixeira, executive director of Emporium Cigars which imports cigars to Brazil, in which he confirms that the National Sanitary Vigilance Agency (Anvisa) “incorrectly interpreted the Cohiba formula and the situation has been normalized.”

This past July 1, Brazilian media reported the prohibition on sales of Cohiba brand cigars, after Anvisa said an excess of sorbic acid, a natural substance used as a food preservative, had been found in its cigars.

In May, the agency rejected Cohiba’s request to renew its registration and gave the company 30 days to remove all cigars from shelves across Brazil.

Teixeira confirmed that, the very afternoon of July 1, Anvisa withdrew the prohibition and authorized sales, since it had been proven “that Cohiba is 100% natural, with no addition of other products. The presence of other substances is the result of the natural curing and fermentation process of tobacco.”

He also explained that the problem resulted from an erroneous interpretation of legislation based on standards in the cigarette industry, in which additives and flavors are used, leading to the mistake with Cuban cigars.

The Cohiba trademark is internationally recognized and sold in all countries, with the exception of the United States, due to the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the government on Cuba for 60 years.

Tabacuba President Fuentes reported that the error was recognized and that production of a premium Cuban cigar is 100% natural from the seedbed, to the fields, and throughout the export process.

Leopoldo Cintras González, Habanos S. A. commercial vice president, added that 2018 was a record year for the company, stating, “We had an income of 537 million dollars this period, with 7% growth, as compared to the previous year at current prices, and 6% at constant prices.”

He reported that some 450 million premium cigars (completely handmade) were sold, 140 million of these habanos, and that this luxury sector grew by 1% over the previous year, evidence of the strength of the 27 brands this joint enterprise handles, outstanding among which are the six with the most sales on the international market: Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Partagás, Hoyo de Monterrey, and H. Upmann.

Beyond the commercial results and value that Habanos S.A. contributes to the country, Cintras insisted that the industry is a source of pride, which his company jealously protects, “maintaining the highest quality standards for our brands, and all tobacco on the island."

IN CONTEXT:

- Europe is the Cuban cigar industry’s main market, showing growth ​​of 13%, followed by the Americas, Pacific Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

- The most important national markets are Spain, China, Germany, France, Switzerland, Lebanon, and United Arab Emirates, in that order.

- The company’s six global brands are Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo and Julieta, Partagás, Hoyo de Monterre, y and H. Upmann, which account for 53% of unit sales.

SOURCE: Tabacuba Enterprise Group.