By the smallest of margins, 2023 has set a new record for the number of premium cigars imported into the U.S.

The Cigar Association of America (CAA), an industry trade group, has published a report that says that 467.569 million premium cigars were imported to the U.S. in 2023, beating out 2022 (464.428 million) by just .7 percent. This is the third consecutive year that a new record has been set.

Nicaragua continues to be the dominant force in the U.S. cigar market, exporting 246.3 million premium cigars to the U.S. last year. That amounted to 53.3 percent of total imports.

That said, Nicaragua’s exports dropped by 1.8 percent.

The Dominican Republic exported 149.2 million premium cigars, an increase of 15.8 percent, and remains solidly the second largest player. By contrast, Honduras saw its exports decrease again, this time falling by 16.2 percent to 69.6 million.

The three consecutive record-setting import years mean that there have been 1.388 billion premium cigars imported into the U.S. from 2021-2023, compared to 1.031 billion cigars between 2018-2020. That is a 34.6 percent increase or 357 million more cigars.

For context, there were 361 million premium cigars imported in 2020, meaning that cigar companies have imported four years’ worth of production in the last three years.

CAA calculates these numbers based on both the import numbers provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Customs Services and information from cigar companies themselves. The trade group’s numbers are not exact because of reporting differences; it estimates how many “large cigars” were actually “premium cigars.” The differences between the two are that there are some machine-made cigars that meet the U.S. definition of a “large cigar,” though those cigars would not be considered premium cigars by most people.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.