• June 22, 2024

Cuban cigar sales increased

 Cuban cigar sales increased

Cuba sold cigars worth US$537 million last year, up seven percent on the value of its cigar sales during the previous year, according to a story in The Havana Times quoting a DPA news agency report.

Habanos’ vice president of business development Jose Maria Lopez Inchaurbe said on Monday that, for instance, the company had enjoyed a 100 percent increase in sales in Gulf countries last year.

Lopez was speaking at the launch of the 21st Habanos Cigar Festival.

Habanos is a joint venture formed by the state-owned Cubatabaco and Spanish company Altadis, owned by Imperial Brands.

With brands including Montectristo and Cohiba, Habanos was responsible for 70 percent of the 140 million Cuban cigars sold worldwide last year.

Cuban cigars are sold in about 150 countries, but their main markets are Spain, China, France, Germany and Cuba. The European market is said to account for up to 53 percent of Habanos’ cigar sales.

But China appears to be the up-and-coming market. In January, Lopez told the Xinhua News Agency that his company would this year seek to expand and diversify its presence in China.

Lopez said there was great potential for increasing sales in China, which, in the medium term, could become Habanos’ most important market.

The story said that, according to ‘official figures’, China became the third largest market for the company in 2017, after Spain and France, with an increase in sales of 33 percent on those of 2016.

Due to a growing demand for premium cigars in China, Habanos reached an agreement with the China National Tobacco Corporation in the summer of 2017 to increase sales and work together to promote a knowledge of, and taste for, Cuban cigars in China.

Lopez said that Chinese consumers preferred Habanos’ most exclusive products, including its Cohiba brand, “which is our most important trademark and greatest exponent of luxury within the Cuban cigar market”.

“Between 40 and 50 percent of the Chinese demand is concentrated in the Cohiba brand, which is very high,” said Lopez. “One of our intentions when we talk about developing the tobacco culture in that country is to educate the Chinese consumer that not all cigars are Cohiba.”

Working with the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, through which domestic imports are made to the Chinese mainland, growth rates of between 20 and 30 percent per year were expected, said Lopez.