Meeting the Challenges of a Boom Period
Though there are clear signs of a recession post-pandemic, consumers have demonstrated an increased desire for luxury goods such as premium cigars.
As with the 1990s boom, or when a particular cigar makers hits a #1 cigar of the year rating, keeping up with a sharp increase in demand for a cigar can prove incredibly challenging for its maker.
Due to the restraints of proper growing procedures and the required aging periods for tobacco, cigars are an agricultural product that cannot be rushed if consistency and quality are to be adhered to.
When speaking about achieving Cigar Aficionado Cigar of the Year in 2014 with their Melanio Serie V Figurado, Oliva Global Brand Ambassador Brian Shapiro states, “It was a challenge for sure, but we had previously seen other brands unsuccessfully try to rush cigars to market after achieving the number one. We took our time; slowly, methodically increasing production to keep supply moving until we had eventually fulfilled the demand. It proved to be a successful plan, as we still live off that number one almost ten years later”.
Unlike the 1990s, today, most major “new world” cigar makers are more prepared for a boom period with greater reserves of tobacco.
Tobacco bales sit in a storage facility
Tobacco is sourced from more locations than ever before, including Nicaragua, who back in the 1990s were recovering from a period of communism and an embargo with the United States. Cigar production has been steadily growing in Nicaragua since around 2010, and today they are the biggest exporter to the USA.
Behind the Dominican Republic, Honduras is the third-leading exporter, shipping 60 to 70 million handmade cigars a year to the US alone.
For the first time ever, premium cigar imports to the United States have reached in excess of 400 million (source: Cigar Aficionado, Feb 2022). Despite a global price-fixing hike and supply shortages as a result of the aftermath of Covid-19 and Hurricane Ian, Cuba reported record-setting profits for its Habanos products in 2022.
“Though 2023 numbers have tapered a bit since the big Covid spike of 2021, premium cigar sales remain higher than they were in 2019’s pre-pandemic period.” says Colm O’Shea, Executive VP at Canadian cigar distributor House of Horvath . “We believe the cause of this micro-boom is attributed to new consumers joining the cigar market and not from existing consumers smoking more premium cigars.”
When it comes to enjoying a premium cigar, it’s the more the merrier – now more than ever.