The handmade, premium cigar market is booming, and cigar shipments continued their robust pace in the first month of 2021, continuing on the growth seen in late 2020. In January, the Cigar Association of America reported nearly 21 million handmade, premium cigars were shipped to the United States, a 55 percent increase over January 2020.
Shipments were up for all three major cigar-producing countries, but the growth was largest in the Dominican Republic. January’s Dominican cigar exports to the U.S. more than doubled over the same month in 2020, soaring from 2.4 million premium cigars to 5.9 million.
For market leader Nicaragua, January shipments were 12.3 million, compared to 9.2 million in January 2020. And Honduras went from exporting 1.9 million cigars to 2.4 million.
One month never can tell the full story of a year, but the import numbers have been exceptional in recent months. Shipments for last year were up seven percent, to 361 million cigars, and December 2020 was a huge month for cigars, with imports up 71 percent over December 2019 numbers.
Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Honduras, in that order, are the three leading producers of handmade cigars for the U.S. market, accounting for roughly 98 percent of premium cigar imports. A tiny number of handmade cigars also comes from such countries as Mexico, Costa Rica, Bahamas and the Philippines.