Habanos celebrates two decades in China. Last week, the exclusive distributor of Habanos in China, Infifon HK Ltd hosted a party to celebrate that occasion. Due to the covid-19 pandemic that is still terrorizing the earth, the party was limited to approximately 50 attendees. Among them are Habanos enthusiasts and entrepreneurs from China and Cuba. But also high-level officials from the state tobacco monopoly administration of China, China Tobacco International, and officials of China Duty-Free Group, Beijing Sunrise Duty-Free, and Beijing Diplomatic Duty-Free Shop. Vice President Mr. Han Zhanwu was the representative of the state tobacco monopoly administration of China.
The ambassador of Cuba in China, Carlos Miguel Pereira, spoke words of recognition for the joint work between Habanos and Infifon Hk Ltd to supply China. Habanos S.A. Commercial Vice President, Leopoldo Cintra González and Development Vice President, José María López Inchaurbe, spoke to the attendees via a video release. They highlighted the importance of the Chinese market. And the importance of collaboration and leadership. During the evening, all participants had the opportunity to enjoy a welcome cocktail and a typical Cuban lunch. The lunch had a delicious chocolate dessert simulating a Habano, as well as excellent Habanos from H.Upmann and Hoyo de Monterrey brands.
China and Habanos
For the last decade, the demand for cigars is booming in China. The Chinese market is now the second-largest market for Habanos. In 2019, China surpassed France. “China has surpassed France as the second biggest market for Habanos behind Spain”, said the cigar company’s vice-president Jose Maria Lopez Inchaurbe in a press release. That year sales in China grew by 55 percent with east Asia as a whole up nine percent. There is hardly any anti-tobacco legislation in China.
Like any emerging market, it’s the biggest and best-known brands that profit from expansion first. And Cuban cigars have the reputation that they are the best in the world. When China discovered wine, the best known French brands were the first to profit. From that, culture starts to develop and it’s then when lesser-known or lesser reputable but equally good (or better) products gain traction. With the current growth of the Chinese cigar market, manufacturers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras better get permission to enter the Chinese market. Earlier this year, four Dominican cigar manufacturers got that approval from the Chinese government.