I don’t think there’s ever been a build up to InterTabac quite like the first four days of this week.

For the eighth year in a row, I’m in Dortmund, Germany to cover the InterTabac Trade Fair, the world’s largest tobacco trade show. It’s been quite a busy week, halfwheel has published 24 articles since Monday and there’s been a lot of big ticket news items.

I’ve covered InterTabac and the differences between it and the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in much greater detail before, but the very short version—because I have to run to a meeting—goes like this:

  • This is the International Tobacco Trade Show — Unlike the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, this is a tobacco show. Cigars make up a decent chunk of the show floor, but they are still a minority. There are cigarette companies, smokeless tobacco, pipes, rolling papers, some alternative tobacco products, equipment and a lot of e-cigarettes and vaping products. It’s also an international show, meaning that while there might be an ever-growing contingent of Americans, it’s mostly about every other market in the world.
  • It’s a Relationship Show — For cigar companies, most of the time in Dortmund will be spent taking meetings, not orders. Largely, that’s about meeting with your distributors in various countries, though some also meet with individual stores themselves. Unlike the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, very few cigar companies are taking actual orders. That being said, the German distributors will sell to the German retailers that attend the show, though that is not the main focus.
  • It’s Been Growing, But That Might Stop — When I first attended InterTabac the show consisted of just three halls, now there are close to 10. Unlike the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show which has had dwindling attendance and exhibitors, InterTabac—largely thanks to e-vaping—has exploded. For those wondering, it’s substantially larger in both physical size and attendance compared to the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.

Some Additional Thoughts on Friday Morning:

  1. The Two Big Storylines — Earlier this week, STG announced its agreement to buy Royal Agio. The $230 million deal is one of the largest in the cigar industry and certainly raises a lot of questions, many of which will play out over the next three days. It’s important to reiterate, this deal is almost entirely about Europe, so while it might not seem all that relevant to American readers, it’s very relevant to the attendees of InterTabac. On the literal other side of the convention hall is vaping. Flavored vaping products have already been banned in some states in the U.S., India announced a similar law earlier this week, Juul pulled out of China, etc. While we don’t cover those products here at halfwheel, that’s the other big storyline here at InterTabac: where does vaping, particularly flavored vaping products, go from here?
  2. The One Waiting in the Wings — I suspect that we will get a big announcement from Altadis U.S.A. later today. Imperial Brands, plc—the owner of Altadis, JR, half of Habanos S.A. and others—has announced that it plans on selling its premium cigar businesses. Many Europeans seem to think that could happen next week, and while I’m a bit skeptical on that timeline, it’s pretty clear that Imperial narrowed the offers down to three and is getting close to making an announcement.
  3. Big Smoke Köln — After a few train delays, I made it to Köln—or Cologne—for the annual Big Smoke event last night. While it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal in the U.S., it was a mid-size multi-vendor event that was very well done. One thing that was a bit different compared to most of the multi-vendor events in America: none of the vendors were complaining about being there.
  4. Fuente International Gets Bigger — I was in Belgium earlier this week for a party celebrating Fuente International. I remember a time when there weren’t any Arturo Fuente employees in Dortmund, let alone Fuente family members. Now, that number includes multiple family members every year. Fuente and their international partners the Meerapfels have made a massive push in the last five years to grow the international business and I suspect it’s only getting started.

Now it’s off to Westfalenhallen. Like last year, there is no soccer, so for those hoping for my annual State of Borussia Dortmund blog, you will have to wait until next year, hopefully.

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.