In 2021, sales of Cuba’s famous hand-rolled cigars set a new record

In 2021, sales of Cuba's famous hand-rolled cigars set a new record

Cuba’s hand-rolled cigars, which include brands such as Cohiba, Montecristo and Partagas, are considered by many the best in the world. The good news on cigar sales, one of the communist-run country’s top exports, is a rare bright spot for the Cuban economy, which has been hammered by the pandemic and tightened U.S. sanctions.

Habanos S.A., Cuba’s official cigar monopoly, announced on Wednesday that sales of its iconic hand-rolled cigars hit new highs in 2021, following two years of pandemic-induced sluggishness. Travel restrictions imposed in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus have harmed demand from tourism-dependent countries as well as sales at key duty-free shops in airports around the world, reducing revenue. However, according to a statement on the company’s website, revenue increased 15% year over year as vaccination regimens took effect and some global travel resumed.

Habanos said in its statement it would also make uniform prices across markets for its coveted high-end cigars, using Hong Kong as a benchmark for setting the price of both its exclusive Cohiba and Trinidad brand cigars. Cigar Aficionado, a top cigar industry publication, predicted the larger Cohibas will soon exceed a price tag of $100 per cigar on the announcement, noting that the Hong Kong market is among the priciest globally.

“Bigger Cohibas will sell for $100 each … and boxes will no longer be priced in the hundreds of dollars, but in the thousands,” the publication said in a story on its website on Tuesday. Habanos usually holds a festival early in the year for tobacco aficionados and retailers featuring tours of Cuba’s historic plantations and factories as well as evening social events that provide opportunities to puff on Cuban smokes.

This year, however, the party was once again called off. The Cuban cigar maker said Spain, China, Germany, France and Switzerland are the top markets for Cuban cigars. The Caribbean island cannot sell its signature export to the biggest market worldwide for cigars, the United States, due to the decades-old U.S. trade embargo.

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