Shipments of premium, handmade cigars have already roared past 300 million units—and there’s still an entire quarter worth of numbers left to count. The September update, just released by the Cigar Association of America, showed a 13.1 percent increase over September 2020, pushing premium cigar imports to 338 million units. That’s the tenth consecutive year that imports have exceeded 300 million cigars. In the same time period for 2020, only 237 million cigars were shipped, making this year up 42.7 percent over 2020 through September. Part of the 2020 numbers were negatively impacted by pandemic-related shutdowns, and 2020 ended with remarkably robust shipments, so it’s quite unlikely that the 40 percent gains will stay when the final months are tabulated. That said, it’s all but certain that 2021 will end up with greater numbers than 2020, perhaps as high as 400 million cigars or more.
Nicaragua was responsible for essentially all the gains in the September update. The Central American nation shipped 23.4 million cigars to the United States, up 41 percent over the 16.6 million shipped in September 2020. Dominican shipments were essentially flat at 13.1 million, and No. 3 producer Honduras showed a decline, dropping 11.6 percent to 7.6 million cigars.