Nicaraguan cigars are enjoying a boom in foreign markets.
They could do better, if they had a better image.
Prices for premium Nicaraguan cigars have doubled in recent years, including “puros” that retail for close to $20.
To protect prices, Nicaragua might want to build a stronger image as a premium producer.
Otherwise, success could have a high cost.
Nicaragua last year exported 120 million cigars, mostly to the United States.
That left Nicaragua in second place, behind longtime leader the Dominican Republic, which exported 135 million.
But Nicaraguan exports are growing quickly.
Last year’s exports were double those of five years earlier.
With rich volcanic soil, the Jalapa Valley in particular has attracted leading producers, including Cuban refugees Oliva and Padrón, who brought with them decades of experience.
Esteli and Condega are other regions, with favorable conditions for producing tobacco.
Cuba was the world’s leading exporter of puros, before the United States limited trade between the two countries.
A puro is a cigar, whose tobacco comes from one country.
Several Nicaraguan cigars have won prizes in recent years, including Rocky Patel’s fifteenth anniversary cigar, named last year as the world’s sixth-best by Cigar Aficionado.
Padrón’s Family Reserve Number 45 won first prize in 2009.