People visit the stand of Chinese company Beijing Asia-Latinamerica International Co. (WANA) during the Habanos Festival in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 27, 2018. Cuba's annual celebration of its cigar-making industry, the Habanos Festival, kicked off Monday here, drawing over 2,000 cigar aficionados and buyers from 70 countries. Just as China has become the top emerging market for Cuban cigars with a 33-percent year-on-year growth in 2017, several Chinese companies decided to provide Cuban and international firms with various products related to the industry. (Xinhua/Joaquin Hernandez)
by Raimundo Urrechaga
HAVANA, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Cuba's annual celebration of its cigar-making industry, the Habanos Festival, kicked off Monday here, drawing over 2,000 cigar aficionados and buyers from 70 countries.
The festival, organized by Habanos S.A., a joint venture between state-owned Cubatabaco and Altadis, a French-German subsidiary of the British multinational Imperial Tobacco, which markets the cigars worldwide, also features gala dinners, tours of cigar factories and tobacco farms, and a renowned auction of custom-made humidors, with funds going to support the country's free healthcare system.
Just as China has become the top emerging market for Cuban cigars with a 33-percent year-on-year growth in 2017, several Chinese companies decided to provide Cuban and international firms with various products related to the industry.
Such is the case of Shenzhen Raching Technology, China's leading cigar cabinet maker founded in 2004, which specializes in the design and manufacture of large scale cigar humidors as well as wine cabinets and cellars.
"We are optimistic about the platform provided by the Habanos Festival because Cuban cigars are the equivalent of a pearl on the crown in the whole cigar industry," Chen Liang, chairman of Shenzhen Raching Technology, told Xinhua.
According to Chen, this is the second time the company has participated in Cuba's cigar festival, where it has been showing wood humidors and cabinets designed with fine taste and elegance.
"In technological design we are the company with the most stable humidity and temperature control in China. The cabinet uses a precision temperature control technology to ensure more stable cigar storage for temperature and humidity," Chen said.
Chen noted that Raching's core concept of cigar humidor production is keeping 70 percent humidity and 20 degrees Celsius in temperature "so the cigar can enjoy better purification and fermentation in the cabinet."
The Chinese firm introduces new products every year and this time they have come to the festival with three humidors of different appearances and cooling functions.
"Many Cuban customers are seeing our innovative products year after year while we improve technical indicators. They're increasingly confident about our humidors and cabinets and the number of orders is growing too," Chen said.
Another Chinese company at the festival is Beijing Asia-Latinamerica International Co. (WANA), which has been in the local market for over a decade and also commercializes cigar and wine cabinets as well as high-end accessories for humidors.
During the first two days of the exhibition, many people passed by WANA's stand looking for metal accessories for humidors or popular products like cigar knives, cutters as well as holders.
"I think these should be available for all craftsmen and artists who produce humidors in Cuba because they have a formidable quality," said Moises Gonzalez, a Cuban who has dedicated himself for more than 20 years to the production of humidors.
Chinese company Bellotour has developed a mobile app which "contains information of the trade exhibition, the festival's site and an introduction for those attending the event," Terry Jiang, president of Bellotour, told Xinhua.
The app, We Go Cuba, also provides users with directions to local Casa del Habano where the cigars are sold, so that participants can take back home as much tobacco as they want.
"The software is free," said Jiang, "and users could simply scan the QR code and download it directly on their phones and start using it right away."