NOW LIVE: A Never Before Seen Interview with Sports Legend Michael Jordan

Cigar Industry

U.S. Cigar Imports Slow in First Quarter

Jun 29, 2020 | By David Savona
U.S. Cigar Imports Slow in First Quarter

Cigar shipments in the U.S. were down in the first quarter of the year, off 9.5 percent from the first three months of 2019. Only some of this slowdown, however, can be blamed on the effects of the pandemic, as it wasn’t until March when cigar factories began to close, interrupting shipments. A greater slowdown is expected for the months of April and May, the peak of the shutdown across the cigar industry.

U.S. Cigar Imports, First Quarter

In Millions of Cigars
Country 2019 2020 Change
Nicaragua 38.1 35.6   -6.6%
Dominican Republic 20.8 18.2 -12.5%
Honduras 13.2 11.4 -13.6%
Other   0.4   0.4    0.0%
Total 72.5 65.6   -9.5%
Source: Cigar Association of America.

Shipments from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Honduras—the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 producers, in order—were all down for Q1, but the decreases were more severe in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Honduras was the first major producer to shut down non-essential businesses (including the nation’s cigar factories), closing down operations on March 17. Some factories in the Dominican Republic began to close soon after, and some of these closures lasted for two months, meaning shipments in April and even May should show an even steeper decline. Nicaragua was the least affected by the shutdown, with many cigar factories remaining open throughout the pandemic.

Market leader Nicaragua shipped 35.6 million cigars in the first quarter of 2020, down 6.6 percent from the 38.1 million shipped in Q1 of 2019, according to the Cigar Association of America. Dominican shipments slipped from 20.8 million to 18.2 million, a decrease of 12.5 percent, while Honduras dropped 13.6 percent, from 13.2 million to 11.4 million.

The United States imported 337.7 million handmade cigars in 2019, the eighth year in a row where imports surpassed 300 million. The market was down 6.6 percent from the stunning 362 million imported in 2018, the most cigars imported in two decades.

Dominican Republic Honduras Nicaragua

More in Cigar Industry

See all
Nat Sherman International Closing

Nat Sherman International Closing

Ninety years after it opened its doors for the first time, Nat Sherman is closing down. The company …

Aug 3, 2020
2020 Cigar Retailer Survey: The Hottest Cigar Brands In America

2020 Cigar Retailer Survey: The Hottest Cigar Brands In America

In a cigar world turned upside down by a pandemic, some things remain constant. Consumers continue to …

Jul 27, 2020
2020 Cigar Retailer Survey: How Covid-19 Has Impacted America’s Cigar Retailers

2020 Cigar Retailer Survey: How Covid-19 Has Impacted America’s Cigar Retailers

The Coronavirus pandemic has hurt many American cigar retailers, closing some cigar shops, forcing …

Jul 27, 2020
2020 Cigar Retailer Survey: Toros Supplant Robustos As Best-Selling Size

2020 Cigar Retailer Survey: Toros Supplant Robustos As Best-Selling Size

The cigar world was long dominated by the robusto, the short, plump size that has been the most …

Jul 27, 2020
Cigar Factories in Honduras To Remain Open

Cigar Factories in Honduras To Remain Open

Despite certain areas of Honduras returning to lockdown status due to Coronavirus, cigar operations …

Jul 21, 2020
ITS Hub to Replace InterTabac Trade Show This Year in Dortmund

ITS Hub to Replace InterTabac Trade Show This Year in Dortmund

Messe Dortmund has rescheduled the Intertabac cigar and tobacco convention as the ITS Hub, a hybrid …

Jul 16, 2020