Habanos says its cigar sales grew rapidly in 2023 to US$721mn

4th March 2024

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 was speaking in Havana during the twenty fourth annual Habano Festival which this year  was attended by more than 2,900 participants from 108 countries.

The growth, according to other Habanos executives, 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 in 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 itself. 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 from which the best leaf comes for Cuba’s premium cigars, he confirmed there are no problems with planting.

As reported previously (Cuba Briefing 19 February 2024) to try to achieve the optimum outcome, Tabacuba is now concentrating on having farmers with the best historical results plant in the best soil in the Vueltabajo tobacco massif. In mid-February Granma quoted a local official as 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 with the 2024-2025 harvest envisaging 14,000 ha under tobacco, a figure still below that when Hurricane Ian crossed the Western end of Cuba in 2022. Farmers not able to plant tobacco are being encouraged to engage with a Tabacuba programme to plant 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 is able to provide further detail about all of the stories in Cuba Briefing. If you would like a more detailed insight into any of the content of today’s issue, please get in touch.

Photo by: www.cigaraficionado.com