For the first time since 2019, guten morgen from Dortmund, Germany.
I’m here for InterTabac 2022, the world’s largest tobacco trade show and the cigar industry’s international-focused event. For those unfamiliar with InterTabac, it’s a longstanding trade show that takes place every September—except for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic—in Dortmund, a city in northwest Germany. The trade show—it’s called a “trade fair,” here in Germany—includes pretty much everything related to tobacco, meaning there are companies here that sell cigarettes, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco and cigars. There’s also InterSupply, a section of the trade show that focuses on the machinery surrounding various tobacco products.
InterTabac is unique in a number of different ways, but for the cigar industry, the largest difference is probably that the show functions as a way for cigar companies to meet with distributors rather than focusing on securing orders. InterTabac has exploded in size during the last decade and it’s now a trade show where a small number of new cigars are introduced, some specifically for international markets and others that will go on sale in the U.S. That said, don’t expect this coverage to be like the PCA Convention & Trade Show as there’s likely to be fewer than 20 new products launched here.
As for 2022, there are a number of things I’m paying attention to at this year’s InterTabac, but here are some of the biggest topics outside of the fact there hasn’t been an InterTabac since 2019.
- The Companies That Are Not Here — Two of the most prominent European cigar companies—Davidoff and Scandinavian Tobacco Group—are not going to be exhibiting at InterTabac. There are other smaller companies, Don Stefano and Arnold André come to mind, that are also said not to be exhibiting either. InterTabac is unique because companies generally exhibit in the same space year after year, so I’m curious to see what’s in place of the large STG booth.
- The World vs. Cuba — In the last six months, there seems to have been a realization amongst many non-Cuban manufacturers that there was an opening for them in the European and Asian markets thanks to the supply issues with Cuban cigars. Many have been happy with the uptick in orders from international markets and bullish about what the future holds. It will be interesting to see if InterTabac accelerates or softens that optimism. While there are definitely issues with the supply of Cuban cigars, the economics of selling cigars in Europe are different than in America, from the size of the markets, the costs involved, warning labels and the number of different distributors to name just a few things. It’s not as simple as saying expanding from 12 states of distribution to 20 in the U.S.
- Vandermarliere, Wolfertz & Wörmann — Shortly before the start of the PCA Convention & Trade Show in July, Vandermarliere Cigar Family, the parent company of Oliva and J. Cortès, announced two moves regarding German distributors. First, it acquired Wörmann & Scholle and Wörmann Cigars; second, it entered an agreement to acquire Wolfertz GmbH later this year. While the Wolfertz deal isn’t supposed to close until the end of the year, I suspect that there will be some announcement about what the combined operations will look like in 2023. While this won’t have any real impact for most of our American audience, these are big moves in the German cigar world and might signal the start of something larger in Europe. During the last five years, no one has been as aggressive as Fred Vandermarliere in terms of expansion and I doubt that is the end of what he has planned.
Oh, and there’s also this soccer match on Saturday. I am also looking forward to that.