Date: August 2021
Author: Inspector Z

A breakdown of 2020 cigar sales. In 2019, we have done a breakdown of the global cigar sales. We put the Habanos claim that they have 70% of the global cigar market, excluding the United States. As the result of our calculations reveal, Habanos does dominate sales outside the USA, but with close to 60% of sales, they aren’t as dominant as they think.

Then comes covid. And the pandemic did several things with the cigar industry. Due to social distancing, quarantines, mandatory closing of factories, and other factors, Cuban cigar production plummeted. According to reliable sources, the production went from close to 95 million cigars to 70 million cigars. Supply chains were, and still are, disrupted. Global demand for cigars is up. And now a civil war or another mass exodus is threatening Cuba as a result of the economical crisis. History tells us that Communist dictatorships don’t respond well to civil unrest.

But the question is, what did it all lead to? What are the numbers for 2020? Will the order be restored in 2021, or will Habanos keep losing ground due to the massive shortages?


Since there aren’t any hard numbers available, we will base our calculations on a few things. On Cigar Aficionado’s report on premium cigar imports in the United States. And on Juan Martinez’s statement that 86% of the cigar exports are going to the United States. Since the Dominican Republic has longer and better historical relationships with Europe, we set the percentage at 82% for the Dominican with 18% going international. Now that percentage may have changed a bit, but not by much. Demand for new world cigars is growing outside of the USA, but since there is a new cigar boom within the USA, the demand there is growing just as hard. Exact numbers are impossible to get, so we have to base our calculations on educated guesses,

In 2020, 361.3 million premium handmade cigars came into the United States. The breakdown is 186.2 Nicaraguan cigars, 102.6 Dominican handmade cigars, 71.2 Honduran cigars, and 1.3 million cigars from other countries. With the 86% for Nicaragua, Honduras, and other countries, and 82% for the Dominican Republic, that makes 425.2 million cigars produced. Of which 216.5 million Nicaraguans, 124.4 million Dominicans, 82.8 Honduran cigars, and 1.5 million from other countries. Add 70 million Cuban cigars, making the total global sales of 495.2 million cigars. With these numbers, Cuba has 14% market share, Nicaragua 44%, Dominican Republic 25%, Honduras 17%, with just scraps for other countries.

Habanos market share excluding the USA

It is not fair to include the largest cigar market in the world, America when determining how Habanos does. That’s due to the 50-year-old Cuban embargo. Cuban cigars are not legally allowed to be sold in the USA, so they can’t compete head to head. So let’s break down the numbers for the rest of the world, as that is a level playing ground for the Cuban vs New World sales battle.

Cuba’s production for 2020 was 70 million cigars. Nicaragua is good for 30.3 million cigars outside the USA. The Dominican Republic exports 21.8 million cigars to international markets. 11.6 million cigars from Honduras came to international markets, and .2 million from other countries. That last number seems low, with more and more cigars coming from Mexico and Costa Rica, but these are the numbers we have to work with.

 The numbers of New World Cigars total up to 63.9 million cigars. They go head to head with 70 million Cuban cigars. With these numbers, the Habanos market share drops from almost 60% to 52.3%. Nicaragua jumps from 17% to 22.6%. The Dominican Republic remains steady at 16.3%. Honduras wins some market share, moving from 7% to 8.7%. The rest of the world stays marginal with just 0.1% of global cigar sales.

Ministry of Cigars - A breakdown of 2020 cigar sales


 In our article about the 2018 global cigar sales, we predicted a slow change in the market share of Habanos. But the covid pandemic, and all the issues it causes, were a surprise. Yet we do have a feeling that it only accelerates our prediction, not just for this year but for the years to come. With the current shortages of Cuban cigars and the next problem for Habanos on the horizon, Habanos won’t be able to bounce back quickly. The market share will drop, and keep dropping.

Our new prediction is that for the first time in history, Habanos will not have 50% or more of the cigar market, excluding the USA. 2021 will be the year that new world cigars will sell more than Habanos does in the markets where they compete head to head. Of course, market shares in individual countries may not represent the global average. But the change is coming, the numbers say it loud and clear.


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