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An Interview with Manuel Quesada

Owner, MATASA, makers of Fonseca, Licenciados, Romeo y Julieta, Jose Benito, Cubita, Royal Dominicana, Credo and Casa Blanca cigars.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Denzel Washington, Jan/Feb 98

(continued from page 14)

CA: These price increases are obviously going to be passed on and have been passed on in terms of what the cigar lover is going to pay. Any projections?

Quesada: I feel that 1998 will still see some increase in prices for the cigars coming into the United States. It's the only way we can remain solvent. We have to make choices. Actually, three choices: not make cigars at all; lower the quality; raise the prices. For the last 500 years, [the handmade cigar industry has] been raising prices.

CA: In 1997, what percentage increase in price did you have for your cigars on the shelf?

Quesada: About 15 percent.

CA: What do you expect in 1998?

Quesada: A little less than that, but somewhere between 8 and 10 percent.

CA: Do you buy the hypothesis that the cigars made today by the traditional families that have been in the business are of higher quality than five years ago?

Quesada: No, I don't buy that they're higher quality. They may be different in a number of ways, but the quality has always been there. We may, if we compare it to a car, may be polishing a little more the doors, we may be tightening a little more the screws, but the quality [was always] there.

CA: So the tobacco quality has not changed.

Quesada: The tobacco quality has not changed, no, and that's why we haven't been able to supply the market, because we haven't had tobacco that's up to our standards.

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