When President Obama announced on July 1 that the diplomatic isolation of Cuba was about to end, cigar lovers across United States rejoiced. But they were not the only ones, as cigar makers from across Cuba saw an opportunity developing that could fulfill their wildest dreams.
Up until now, the only way for cigar lovers to get their hands on genuine Cuban cigars was through less than legal methods. The re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries means that after a 53 year import embargo, the sale of Cuban cigars could once again be allowed in the U.S.
This change should finally pave a legal way to place the long denied hand-rolled product in the hands of the world’s largest market for premium cigars. Considering that U.S. sales of cigars have almost quadrupled in the past 20 years, Cuban cigar makers are getting ready to take full advantage of this golden opportunity.
With the undeniable quality of Cuban cigars and the almost cult-like status they enjoy, due in large part to the ‘illegality’ in obtaining them, Cuban cigar makers are very optimistic about the future of their product on the U.S. market. Some well known producers are already being courted by U.S. resellers who are trying to secure a good relationship with growers ahead of their competition.
As a result, many analysts are predicting that Cuban cigars could initially gain between 25 and 30 percent of the $6.7 billion cigar market. Some even think that over time, and once production gets ramped up, that it could grow as high as 70 percent of the total market. With current demand and the fact that the U.S. is only a 45 minute flight for most producers, those predictions do not seem that farfetched.
However, Cuban cigar makers might be surprised by the quality of their competition. As a result it might not be as easy as they think to dislodge some of the other exporters, particularly from South America, from their share of the US market. It will certainly be a battle worthy of watching, perhaps accompanied by a fine brandy and a hand rolled cigar.