Shipments of premium handmade cigars have already surpassed 300 million units and there is still a full quarter of numbers to count. The September update, just released by the Cigar Association of America, showed a 13.1% increase from September 2020, pushing premium cigar imports to 338 million units. This is the tenth consecutive year that imports have exceeded 300 million cigars. During the same period for 2020, only 237 million cigars were shipped, representing a 42.7% increase this year over 2020 through September. Part of the 2020 numbers were negatively impacted by the pandemic-related shutdowns, and 2020 ended with remarkably robust shipments, so the 40% gains are unlikely to hold when the final months are tabulated. That said, it’s almost certain that 2021 will end with a higher number than 2020, possibly as high as 400 million cigars or more.
Nicaragua was responsible for virtually all of the gains in the September update. The Central American nation shipped 23.4 million cigars to the United States, up 41% from the 16.6 million shipped in September 2020. Dominican shipments remained essentially flat at 13.1 million, and the No. 3 producer, Honduras, saw a decline, falling 11.6% to 7.6 million. cigars.