Troubles in Cuba

Between civil unrest and major product shortages, there are troubles in Cuba's paradise like never before...

Well, that's not exactly true; Cuba has had anything but a civil history and over the decades poor weather has also led to product shortages.

The word is from major European Cuban cigar retailers; they are ordering 100 boxes (a Master Case of Cuban cigars) and only getting 5 boxes of that single vitola.

This time however it is not just poor weather but also staffing issues and the global COVID-19 pandemic "mini cigar boom" that is creating the (not so) perfect storm for Habanos S.A.

Those kiwi consumers who are regular local buyers will have seen the markedly reduced number of Cuban cigar-facings on offer (it has slightly increased again this week I do note).

But the likes of BHK's and other more sought-after cigars are nowhere to be seen.

Certainly the new cigar boom shows the demand for Cuban cigars is still there; however the indication is Cuba may have only produced close to 70 million cigars last year (this includes a large number of machine made cigars); so they are a long way behind the non-Cuban (Premium) cigar producers who turned out over 360 million cigars just for the USA market alone.

Globally speaking, the issue now comes for Habanos S.A. that their once stronghold markets of Europe and Asia will fill the shelves with Premium (non-Cuban) cigars that are of a higher quality, better price point and more readily sourced.

Since the revolution of 1959, political protests in Cuba have been very rare and are dealt with in a way that every dictatorship deals with protests. Violence by police, paramilitary groups and other heavily armed groups in support of the regime.

During July the citizens of Cuba have gone to the streets to protest against Castroism; they are calling for freedom and a free market economy.

This disruption of labour will have an impact on Habanos S.A. right from the farms to the box producers and ultimately to the rollers who roll the ~70 million Cuban cigars.

Even once Cuba resolves its production and logistic problems; will they ever return to those markets anywhere near as strong as they once were? Or will the Premium cigar makers have grabbed those vital shelf-spaces...

PS - Big thanks to Ferdinand of for some of the source material for this piece.


Enjoy your read with a good cigar.