The U.S. cigar market is off to an extremely strong start for 2021. Imports of premium, handmade cigars soared 42.9 percent in February, continuing the gains that began in late 2020 and extended into the start of 2021. For the first two months of the year, imports are up 46.7 percent.
The biggest gains for February, according to numbers released this morning by the Cigar Association of America, came from Honduras. Shipments of Honduran cigars soared 63.6 percent, from 4.5 million cigars in February of 2020 to 7.3 million in February of this year. Dominican shipments were up nearly as much, jumping 58.2 percent, to 10.9 million. Nicaragua, the leading producer of cigars for the United States, had a 27.8 increase in shipments, to 16.4 million cigars.
Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Honduras account for nearly all of the fine cigars exported to the United States, the world’s largest market for cigars.
For the first two months of 2021, more than 55 million cigars have come to the United States.
February’s growth follows a particularly strong January, where imports were up 55 percent over January 2020, and an exceptional December, which had 71 percent growth. The year 2020 was a big one for premium cigar imports, with 361 million cigars shipped, a big gain from the 227.7 shipped in 2019. While it’s far too early to speculate about the year, it’s a near certainty that the March and April 2021 numbers will show some level of increase over the same months in 2020, as the spring of 2020 saw reduced shipments of cigars due to many cigar factories having to close or reduce production as a result of the pandemic.