Imports of premium, handmade cigars continue to impress. The latest figures showed a 17 percent increase for the month of August, with the biggest gains coming from the Dominican Republic.
Dominican shipments soared in August, increasing 39 percent to 12.7 million units. The country is home to such major brands as Arturo Fuente, La Gloria Cubana and La Flor Dominicana.
Nicaragua, the leading producer of cigars for the U.S. market, had a 5.6 percent gain, rising to 19.3 million cigars. It’s where Padrón, Oliva, Plasencia and so many other brands are rolled.
Honduran shipments were up 15.5 percent, to 7.9 million cigars. The Central American country is home to such brands as Punch and CLE.
For the first three quarters of 2021, premium cigar imports rose by 48.5 percent. With a full quarter of reporting left in the year, imports were at 294 million cigars, oh so close to the magic 300 million number. For nine years in a row, cigar imports have hit or exceeded 300 million units, and it’s certain that this streak will continue.
In 2020, 361.3 million cigars were shipped to the United States. If the most recent rate of growth can be maintained—quite a big if—final import numbers for 2021 could exceed 500 million units. But that’s not likely, as the end of 2020 saw incredibly robust import numbers, numbers that would be hard to match later this year.
Still, cigar industry executives say that sales are booming in 2021.
“The industry now is growing in a way we haven’t seen since the boom,” said Sathya Levin of Ashton Distributors. “We want to keep that momentum going as long as possible.”