Cigar market picks up
• 160-170 million Cuban cigars are planned for this year • Current
sales slump is related to demand, not quality or production levels
BY JOAQUIN ORAMAS
CIGAR production and culture are intertwined at the 4th International
Habano Festival, taking place in Havana and attended by around
1,000 businesspeople and company representatives from 50
Cuba’s Foreign Trade Minister Raúl de la Nuez inaugurated the Habano
with 34 companies from various nations participating. He told Granma
International that he was optimistic about recovery on the international market,
where Cuban cigars are in great demand.
The minister explained that current problems are not related to the quality
Cuban cigars or production levels, but to foreign sales which have been affected by
the international situation. However, he stated that this year between 160-170
million cigars will be made, depending on demand.
Jaime García Andrade, Habanos S.A. corporation co-president, agreed
with De la
Nuez’ assessment, highlighting the extraordinary success of the event that attracts
those in charge of producing, exporting and distributing the best cigar in the world to all
TRADE FARE LINKED TO CULTURE
One of the new features that characterizes the Habanos Festival is
the exhibition and sale of works by 39 Cuban painters; the central
theme of each piece is related to cigars. This showing has awakened
great interest — so much so that some of the oil paintings were
bought for thousands of dollars in the first hour after the opening.
Another notable success was the international research seminar on
cultivating and processing tobacco, attended by 75 experts, mainly
from Cuba, Mexico and Chile.
Of great interest was a likeness of Alejandro Robaina, one of the
island’s most famous tobacco growers, made from tobacco leaves.
Cuban cigar roller Miguel Cabrera took nine months to complete the
life-size model, using photos given to him by the veteran grower.
The current festival is dedicated to the 5th anniversary of the brand
that carries Robaina’s name.
Robaina said he was very pleased at the quality of the original
"sculpture," adding that in the near future he would be launching a
new Vegas de Robaina, joining this brand’s five types of cigars
already successfully sold on the international market.
At the opening of the Trade Fair, a ceremony to cancel stamps
illustrating the making of Cuban cigars took place. The stamps were
designed by French artist Marc J. Pasini, who carried out a
comprehensive study of the island’s tobacco industry that, he
affirmed, is very closely linked to Cuba’s history.
Humidors made in Cuba with the cooperation of Rito, an Italian
company, are also on exhibit. Rito’s representative Nieves Varona
said they plan to develop cooperative production of pipes and other
articles for smokers who enjoy the ritual that goes with savoring the
At the close of this edition, a gala dinner is scheduled, where
humidors and collections of the most famous cigar brands are up for