Habanos S.A Seeks Greater Presence in Asia-Pacific Market

Habanos S. A., producer of premium cigars, is seeking to strengthen its presence in the Asia-Pacific market, a region considered one of the centers of the world economy, said Tuesday a source of the entity.

The Marketing Director, Ernesto Gonzalez, told Prensa Latina they are developing new products focused on that area.

Habanos S.A. has in China one of the strongest customers in Asia, and the company is currently focusing on consumers in that area to develop a culture on everything related to Habano and its properties, said the director.

The company, world leader in its category, now consolidates the European markets, which represent 56 percent of its sales, mainly in Spain, France, Germany, England and Switzerland.

The Cuban domestic market is also one of the most important in terms of sales volume.

We keep working focused on customers and satisfying their needs. Our strategy is to consolidate the gaps we have and continue growing, explained Gonzalez.

The company holds 70 percent of the world tobacco market, with the exception of the United States. Out of 10 cigars sold, seven are Cuban, he said.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba aiming to boost production of world-famous cigars

The Cuban government has been seeking to increase tobacco plantation on the island in order to boost the production of the country's world-renowned cigars.

Over 20,000 hectares of tobacco will be planted in the province of Pinar del Rio this year, where tobacco considered to be the world's best is grown. This is an increase of 1,000 hectares from 2017. Authorities aim to harvest more than 22,800 tons of the leaf.

"We have increased production in almost all of the province," Virginio Morales, an official from the state-owned company Tabacuba, told local media.

Tabacuba is a partner in the joint venture Habanos S.A, which works together with Altadis, a Spanish subsidiary of the British multinational group Imperial Tobacco.

Morales, who in 2017 won the coveted Cuban tobacco award the "Habano Man of the Year", said that as of Aug. 20, both state and private farmers will be involved in the planting of tobacco crops.

With the increase in tobacco plantation, new drying rooms are also needed and more than 5,300 rooms will be built, Morales said. The drying process, which aims to reduce the water and chlorophyll in tobacco leaves, could take months.

Carried out under the burning Cuban sun, tobacco harvesting is not an easy job. It is usually a family tradition of passing on from father to son the specialist knowledge that keeps the production of Cuban cigars alive.

The staggering success of Cuban cigars is considered to be due to a combination of good soil, excellent climate and the extensive experience of the producers. The selection and cleaning of the leaves are also vital to the production chain.

Last year, Habanos S.A. saw a global sales hike of 12 percent, generating a revenue of 500 million U.S. dollars.

This figure was achieved despite the fact that Cuban cigars cannot be sold to the the U.S. market due to the economic blockade the United States has imposed on Cuba since 1962.

The Cuban-Spanish firm is looking east to diversify and extend its market. It's currently the third largest supplier of Cuban cigars to China.

According to company executives, China is the most important emerging market and offers greatest sales potential in the future.

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Tributo 2018, First Cuban Smoked Rum

Tributo 2018 is the first Cuban smoked rum, produced in a limited edition with only 1,500 bottles for the whole world.

This edition of Tributo, honor the experts's contribution of a barrel for the rum, allowing to discover nuances given by the barrel wood. It also has a special case that looks like the white oak wood, said Cristiasn Barre, director-general of the company Havana Club International Inc., during the presentation.

This year, he explained, we will expand the production of the product and reach 21 countries, but not the amount of bottles.

During the presentation ceremony, held in the context of the 20th edition of the Habanos Festival, which is developing in this capital until March 2, Abel Alvarez, sales director to the company, highlighted that the rum was a jewel among the Havana Club rums, designed to be tasted while smoking Habanos.

We have great expectations, based on the success of the editions Tributo 2016 and Tributo 2017, he said before specifying that there were 330 bottles had been set aside for Cuba.

Cuban rum expert Asbel Morales announced that there would be new surprises in 2019, especially due to the emphasis we will make on the making of the rum.

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Cuban cigar sales hit record as China demand surges

On a roll

A surge in sales of Cuba's legendary cigars in China helped manufacturer Habanos S.A.'s global revenue rise 12 percent to hit a record of around $500 million last year, the company said on Monday at the start of Cuba's annual cigar festival.

Sudden demand in China

Habanos S.A., a 50-50 joint venture between the Cuban state and Britain's Imperial Brands Plc, said sales in China, its third export market after Spain and France, jumped 33 percent in value in 2017.

"Without doubt, there is potential for China to become the biggest market at a global level," Habanos Vice President of Development Jose María Lopez told Reuters after the company's annual news conference, while puffing on a smoke.

Best in the world

The Cuban cigar company's hand-rolled cigars, which include brands such as Cohiba, Montecristo and Partagas, are considered by many as the best in the world, and the festival attracts wealthy tobacco aficionados and retailers from all over for a week of extravagant parties and tours of plantations and factories.

Lopez said that growth in global sales of Cuban cigars last year outpaced the luxury goods market, which expanded 5 percent, according to consultancy Bain & Co. He put sales growth down to several good tobacco harvests and new products.

The Habanos executive said the outlook was also positive, given solid demand and "excellent" climatic conditions. Hurricane Irma, which wrought havoc throughout much of Cuba last year, left the western, prime tobacco-growing state of Pinar del Rio mostly unscathed.

Top exports for Cuban economy

Cigars are one of the top exports for the Cuban economy.

However, the Caribbean island cannot sell its signature export to the biggest market worldwide for cigars, the United States, due to the decades-old US trade embargo.

Trump's hostility has no effect on sales

Improved US-Cuba relations under former US President Barack Obama stoked a boom in international travel to Cuba and boosted cigar sales on the island, with American visitors able to take home as many cigars as they wanted.

Lopez said US President Donald Trump's more hostile policy toward Cuba, including tighter restrictions on US travel, did not appear to have impacted sales so far. Domestic revenue rose around 15 percent last year.

"We trust that despite Trump's measures the Cuban market will continue to grow in 2018," he said.

Cuban symbol

Cigars have been Cuba's signature product ever since Christopher Columbus saw natives smoking rolled up tobacco leaves when he first sailed to the Caribbean island in 1492.

Late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro was often seen puffing on his favored kind, the long and thin 'lancero', until he quit in 1985.

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Habanos Festival returns to celebrate Cuban cigar industry

Cuba's annual celebration of its cigar-making industry, the Habanos Festival, will kick off on Feb. 26 in Havana, drawing cigar aficionados and buyers from around the globe.

The glamorous week-long festival features launchings of new premium brands, including this year's much-anticipated line of Cohiba Robusto Reserva, from the 2014 harvest.

Cuba's best-known brand, Cohiba was popularized by the legendary revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who was rarely seen without a cigar until he quit in his later years to encourage a healthier lifestyle among the people.

The festival, organized by Habanos S.A., a joint venture between state-owned Cubatabaco and Altadis, a French-German subsidiary of the British multinational Imperial Tobacco, which markets the cigars worldwide, also features gala dinners, tours of cigar factories and tobacco farms, and a renowned auction of custom-made humidors, with funds going to support the country's free healthcare system.

Habanos spokesperson Daymi Difurniao said this year participants will learn about the most diverse aspects of the cigar industry, and tour plantations in western Cuba's Pinar del Rio province, home to the world's best tobacco leaf.

"It is an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful plantations in San Juan y Martinez, recognized as having the best soil for attaining the leaves used to make renowned Cuban cigars," said Difurniao.

San Juan y Martinez, along with San Luis, Guane and the city of Pinar del Rio, make up the region of Vueltabajo, Cuba's prime tobacco-growing region.

In Vueltabajo, some 18,000 hectares of different tobacco varieties are planted each year. This year, production is expected to surpass 20,000 tons of leaves, more than previous harvests.

Another festival highlight is the traditional Habanosommelier International Contest, a culinary event that pairs cigars with a gourmet dish or cocktail.

This year, organizers are introducing the first-ever Habanos World Challenge, where cigar lovers from around the world will compete to test their knowledge about the world of cigars.

There will also be an evening dedicated to the history and success of the festival, now in its 20th edition.

In the past, the Habanos Festival has been attended by celebrities such as the late author and Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez; American actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger; and British model Naomi Campbell, among others.

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New Habano Cigar at Market Shelves

Havana.- Cuba's Habanos S.A. Corporation launched a new cigar shape into the market known as Picadores, as part of a development strategy aimed at meeting the needs of the most demanding clients around the world.

  • Published in Culture

Havana Cigars: New Designs and Cigar Bands

New designs and cigar bands of the Vequeros brand will soon be on the market as part of strategies of the Habanos S.A. Corporation, in charge of its commercialization in the world.

The brand incorporates new bands and innovative metal containers, which changes the image introduced in 1996 to pay tribute to all the agriculture workers who, generation after generation, have cultivated tobacco in western Pinar del Rio province.

Mañanitas, Entretiempos and Tapados, its three cigar bands, offer formats that are very appreciated by smokers and will reach a wider spectrum of consumers.

Vegueros is made at the Francisco Donatien cigar factory in Pinar del Rio, along with other renowned brands, like Trinidad, Montecristo, Vegas de Robaina, Hoyo de Monterrey and Romeo y Julieta.

Ana Lopez, director for Marketing of Habanos S.A., told ACN that all cigar bands of this brand are hand-made.

  • Published in Cuba
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