NEW YORK — Remarkably bad tobacco harvests and increasing demand is making it extraordinarily difficult for Cuba to meet demands of their world-known cigars, say industry experts at the annual cigar festival in Piñar del Rio.
– The quality is usually a lot better, says tobacco worker Mavelys Linares on one of the tours organized during the festival in the western province, where most of the tobacco grown in the country.
He shows up leaves and complains about how they look and feel.
– It’s the weather’s fault. There are good years, and there are bad years.
One of the tobacco industry experts in the field explains: Large cigars demand large tobacco leaves. And they are now in very, very short supply.
This situation has meant that Cuba, after several consecutive years of bad harvests, can not meet demand for some of the top brands. But several of gourmets in place thinks it is good that you are not trying to produce too many premium cigars in times of short supply.
– If you do not have enough tobacco for manufacturing Cohiba, you should not provide it, and this principle is understood Cuba, said Christoph Puszkar, representing a company importing cigars to Germany, Austria, Poland and the US.
– We control 20-30 percent of all goods that enter our markets. Our impression of the quality is still excellent.
The demand for Cuban cigars have increased both abroad and at home, as a result of increasing tourism. Last year, sales rose 5 percent to the value of 2 billion dollars.
From the festival there are reports of Americans bunkering boxes, for fear that US President Donald Trump will once again change the country’s policy on Cuba and impose tougher rules on how much rum and cigars Americans can buy back home, after the thaw under President Barack Obama.
– Maybe this is the last trip that I can take with me cigars home, says a cigar blogger in place in Pinar del Rio.
– So far I have bought about ten boxes containing 1,000 cigars each, but there are still a few days left before I go home.