Plain Packaging in Canada Update - Also, delisted cigars


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An new article shedding some light on what plain packaging is going to look like in Canada is now up.

Please visit here.

As a further indignity, Habanos will de-list many cigars from being available in the Canadian market.  The list is long.  ☹️

 

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11 minutes ago, JohnS said:

I encourage members to have a look at the de-listed stock from May 2021 onwards. That is quite incredible!

It is!

It didn't quite hit me at first, but I have boxes of 13 of those delisted items, and 11 of them are totally delisted, not just due to 25/50-cabs.

Edit: Seems this was an intended or at least anticipated consequence of the plain packaging (It was estimated about 50% of SKUs would be eliminated going forward):

 

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6 minutes ago, NSXCIGAR said:

I'm not clear on why they're de-listing any non-tubed cigars...

Cost of creating the plain boxes for smaller selling vitolas. That plus even less people will buy retail in Canada most likely.

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http://www.cubanhouseofcigars.com/plain-packaging-what-it-means-for-cuban-cigars-in-canada-plus-a-list-of-delisted-habanos-cigars/?ct=t(EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_10_26_2020_16_23)

 

All signs point to the Canadian government sticking with its plan to enforce the plain packaging law on tobacco sales in the country.  Despite numerous protests, petitions, advocate groups, it seems the Trudeau government will go ahead and do its part to help destroy what is already a highly regulated business sector – the premium cigar market.  Ironically, Justin Trudeau’s father was a close friend and ally of Fidel Castro.  I wonder if the two past leaders are looking down on this ridiculous law whilst enjoying a Cuban cigar in the outer dimensions.

 Selling cigars in Canada, in a legal fashion, is a very tough business.  There are so many options for consumers that are sometimes more affordable than purchasing from a local authorized retailer.  I have been fortunate and grateful to have built a loyal and passionate clientele that have continued to buy from our shops locally, both at La Casa del Habano in Montreal, and most recently from Whisky Café in Montreal.  With all those challenges to ensure customers are satisfied, we are now being faced with a hurdle that will be, to say the least, a test to the industry, and an annoyance to the end customer.

 

     Here are the details and dates and how it can affect you, the cigar consumer.  Effective November 9, 2020, the cigar distributors will no longer be allowed to sell cigars with the original packaging.  Retailers will then have until May 31, 2021 to sell off all their inventory with original packaging.  This pertains to the premium cigars.  The small format (mini, club, cigarillos) are already in plain packaging mode.  Keep in mind that discounting tobacco in some parts of Canada is illegal, and so retailers in say Quebec are not even permitted to sell their inventory at a discount should they need to liquidate their cigars. 

 At the time of this writing, all of the major cigar distributors are out of stock on most of their best sellers.  Havana House, Canada’s exclusive distributor of Habanos, is slowly running out of many of their cigars.  Other distributors like GVA (Davidoff, Arturo Fuente, Brickhouse, etc…), House Of Horvath (My Father Cigars, Calixto Lopez, Atelier, etc…) are in the same boat.  The reason for their low inventory is that they were all very careful on not ordering too many cigars before the November cut-off with the original packaging, with fear of being stuck with all those soon to be illegal cigars. 

 

 To add to the complexity of the situation, COVID 19 hit the world, making travel next to impossible and creating work from home environments commonplace.  Without much travel in which cigar smokers obtain varying portions of their cigars, the Canadian demand at the local retailers was far beyond the expected sales forecasts that any of the distributors could have predicted, and thus, the inventory is being depleted at a faster than ever rate.  The result is that many cigar distributors are sold out of our favorite sticks, and will only receive more in months from now.  It seems that we will be without several cigars for a period of time.  

What a year it has been.

 

Resistance from the consumers. 

 

     Having spoken to several authorized retailers, the initial response from clients to the plain packaging is cold.  “We just received the Macanudo cigars, with the same price, but with the plain packaging, and clients are not interested in it” commented Trae Zammit from Smokin’ Cigar in Toronto.  Other retailers are finding their humidors are starting to look “depressing” with the ever-growing percentage of brown packaging.  The cigar retail section of Whisky Café will also be affected as it’s large humidors will have less color than usual from.  I believe that once all the cigars are uniform and the clients overcome the adjustment period, the negativity of it will neutralize from a cigar smokers’ point of view.  After all, we do not enjoy cigars because of the band, but of the pleasure and relaxation it provides.

 

     Let’s get down to the details.  Below is a list of Habanos cigars coming from Cuba that will be delisted and no longer available as of November 2020.  In some cases, they are already unavailable as they may have sold out.  Brace yourself, you are sure to find some of your favorites in the list.

 

Notable and iconic cigars that will no longer be available.

 

 

When first looking at the list, I had to double check and triple check it a few times to ensure I was not misreading.  There are simply too many iconic and important cigars that are being delisted.  This is by no means on knock on the people who made the decisions.  No doubt they were business decisions based on past sales, and there was no room for sentimental decisions.  I get it.  However, not having the entire Por Larranaga and Cuaba lines hurts.  No more personal favorites such as the Partagas 898, Cohiba Siglo V, Rafael Gonzalez Petit Coronas, Romeo Y Julieta Cazadores, and San Cristobal De La Habana La Fuerza.  

     The iconic cigars, such as the Cohiba Lanceros, Montecristo A and Trinidad Fundadores will no longer be available.  You may ask, when is the last time you smoked any of these?  The reality is, that indeed, those cigars are in the rotation, and even if they are not the most common daily cigars, they do remain a celebration cigar, something you save the date for.

 

Complete lines will disappear

 

The Montecristo Linea 1935 line that consists of the Leyanda, Dumas and Maltes cigars will no longer be available.  The Añejados complete line will disappear, although that line never really took off.  Our beloved cabinets of 50, no longer available.  Not one!  It is not 100% clear yet what the future holds for the cigars that come in more elaborate packaging, such as the revered Cohiba Behike, the annual Book Humidors, the Replica Humidors, and so many others that we’ve come to love.

 

A call to encourage local shops

 

     It is clear that many Canadian cigar smokers purchase their cigars from places other than Canadian retailers.  Although I am not here to change any habits, I do encourage the community to purchase a few cigars here and there from their local shops as often as possible.  It will make the difference between keeping the industry alive or not having one at all.  Remember, they are providing a service, their expertise, taking risks, and offering an experience when we enter their fine establishments.  Let’s try not to lose that.   

A list of DELISTED CUBAN CIGARS in Canada

 

     For sake of clarity, note that if it says “tubos”, it means only the tubos is delisted and not the regular cigar.  If it reads “5 pack”, then only the 5 pack of that cigar will be delisted, and so on…    

 

BOLIVAR

Bolivar Belicosos Finos Cabinet of 25 (it seems the box pressed version will be available)

Bolivar Coronas Junior

Bolivar Royal Coronas Tubos

Bolivar Soberano Limited Edition 201

COHIBA

Cohiba Coronas Especiales

Cohiba Esplendidos 3 packs

Cohiba Exquisitos

Cohiba Exquisitos 5 packs

Cohiba Lanceros

Cohiba Medio Siglo

Cohiba Medio Siglo Tubos

Cohiba Panetelas

Cohiba Panetelas 5 packs

Cohiba Piramides Extra Tubos

Cohiba Robusto Tubos

Cohiba Siglo I Tubos

Cohiba Siglo I 5 packs

Cohiba Siglo III

Cohiba Siglo III 5 packs

Cohiba Siglo IV Tubos

Cohiba Siglo IV 5 packs

Cohiba Siglo V

Cohiba Siglo VI Tubos

Cohiba Talisman Limited Edition 2017

CUABA

Cuaba Distinguidos

Cuaba Divinos

Cuaba Exclusivos

Cuaba Salomon

Cuaba Tradicionales

DIPLOMATICOS

Diplomaticos Nortenos Regional Edition Canada

FONSEC

Fonseca Cosacos

H. UPMANN

H. Upmann Connaisseur No. 1

H. Upmann Coronas Junior Tubos

H. Upmann Coronas Minor Tubos

H. Upmann Half Corona 5 packs

H. Upmann Magnum 46 Cabinet of 50

H. Upmann Magnum 54 Tubos

H. Upmann Propios Limited Edition 2018

H. Upmann Robustos Anejados

HOYO DE MONTERREY

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure Especial Tubos

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No.1

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No.2 Tubos

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No.2 Cabinets of 50

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No.2 Tubos

Hoyo De Monterrey Petit Robusto 3 packs

Hoyo De Monterrey San Juan Tubos

JOSE L. PIEDRA

Jose L. Piedra Petit Cetros

JUAN LOPEZ

Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1

MONTECRISTO

Montecristo 80 Aniversario

Montecristo A

Montecristo Churchills Anejados

Montecristo Double Edmundo Boxes of 10

Montecristo Double Edmundo 3 packs

Montecristo Dumas

Montecristo Edmundo Tubos

Montecristo Edmundo 3 packs

Montecristo Especial No.2

Montecristo Leyenda

Montecristo Maltes

Montecristo Medias Coronas

Montecristo No. 3.  5 packs

Montecristo No. 4.  3 packs.

Montecristo No. 5 Boxes of 10

Montecristo No. 5 5 packs

Montecristo Open Junior Tubos

Montecristo Open Eagle Tubos

Montecristo Open Master Tubos

Montecristo Open Regata Tubos

Montecristo Petit Edmundo Tubos

Montecristo Petit No. 2 Tubos

Montecristo Petit No. 2. 3 packs

Montecristo Petit Tubos 5 packs.

Montecristo Petit Tubos

Montecristo Supremos Limited Edition 2019

Montecristo Tubos

QUAI D’ORSA

Quai D Orsay Senadores Limited Edition 2019

PARTAGAS

Partagas 898 HR VARNISHED

Partagas Coronas Gordas Anejados

Partagas Coronas Junior TUBOS

Partagas Lusitanias in boxes of 25 and Cabinets of 50.  Only boxes of 10 will remain.

Partagas Mille Fleurs

Partagas Presidentes

Partagas Serie D No. 4 Tubos

Partagas Serie D No. 5 Tubos

Partagas Serie D No. 6. 5 packs

Partagas Serie E No. 2. 5 packs

Partagas Serie E No. 2 Tubos

Partagas Serie P No. 2 Tubos

Partagas Series No. 1 Limited Edition 2017

Partagas Shorts CABINET of 50

POR LARRAÑAGA

Por Larranaga Montecarlos

Por Larranaga Panetelas

Por Larranaga Petit Coronas CAB 50’S

Por Larranaga Picadores LCDH & Specialists Exclusive

QUINTERO

Quintero Favoritos Tubos

Quintero Favoritos 5 packs

Quintero Nacionales

Quintero Tubulares

RAFAEL GONZALEZ

Rafael Gonzalez Perlas

Rafael Gonzalez Perlas 5 packs

Rafael Gonzalez Petit Corona

ROMEO Y JULIETA

Romeo Y Julieta Capuleto Limited Edition 2016

Romeo Y Julieta Cazadores

Romeo Y Julieta Cedros Deluxe No. 2

Romeo Y Julieta Cedros Deluxe No. 3

Romeo Y Julieta Churchills Tubos (all configurations)

Romeo Y Julieta Churchills Anejados Tubos

Romeo Y Julieta Club Kings

Romeo Y Julieta Exhibicion No. 4

Romeo Y Julieta Julieta

Romeo Y Julieta Petit Churchills Tubos

Romeo Y Julieta Petit Coronas

Romeo Y Julieta Petit Royales

Romeo Y Julieta Petit Royales Tubos

Romeo Y Julieta Piramides Anejados

Romeo Y Julieta Romeo No. 2.  5 packs

Romeo Y Julieta Romeo No. 3.  Boxes of 10

Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchills Tubos

Romeo Y Julieta Tacos Limited Edition 2018

Romeo Y Julieta Wide Churchill Tubo

SELECCION SERIES

Seleccion Petit Robustos

Seleccion Piramides

Seleccion Robustos

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA HABANA

San Cristobal De La Habana La Fuerza

San Cristobal De La Habana La Punta

San Cristobal De La Habana Prado LCDH & HS

TRINIDAD

Trinidad Fundadore

Trinidad Vigia Tubos

VEGUEROS

Vegueros Centrofinos 4 packs

Vegueros Entretiempos 4 packs

Vegueros Mananitas 4 packs

Vegueros Tapados 4 packs

 

 

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1 minute ago, Bijan said:

Cost of creating the plain boxes for smaller selling vitolas. That plus even less people will buy retail in Canada most likely.

I see. Well, since the majority of cigars many people buy are among those poor sellers this is going to be tough. Any cigars that remain will see significant price increases due to Havana House's increased expense to re-package and by retailers making up for lost sales on other cigars. I don't see how any retailer there can stay in business at this point. 

I see something like this as a backdoor way to outright ban cigars. You don't need to outlaw something if you make selling it sufficiently onerous.

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  • JohnS changed the title to Plain Packaging in Canada Update - Also, delisted cigars
1 hour ago, Bijan said:

It is!

It didn't quite hit me at first, but I have boxes of 13 of those delisted items, and 11 of them are totally delisted, not just due to 25/50-cabs.

Edit: Seems this was an intended or at least anticipated consequence of the plain packaging (It was estimated about 50% of SKUs would be eliminated going forward):

 

Appreciate the shout out. I wrote two articles on Developing Palates about plain packaging and I had several people in the industry say that I was being an alarmist and making the impact out to be much larger than it is.

Here we are more than a year later and it's worse than I originally wrote about.

At the risk of self promotion. Here's my original article back in 2018:

https://developingpalates.com/editorials/cigar-editorials/cigar-editorial-the-death-of-the-cigar-industry-in-canada/

Here's my follow up article back in 2019:

https://developingpalates.com/editorials/cigar-editorials/cigar-editorial-now-scheduled-the-death-of-the-cigar-industry-in-canada/

Quote

 

"The net result will be a significant increase to the cost of premium handmade cigars, along with the additional cost to retail tobacconists who are unable to clear their entire existing inventory out before May 9, 2021."

"Selection of product available will decline almost immediately as manufacturers won’t be able to justify the added plain packaging costs and labor associated with the small Canadian market.

Store owners will now scramble to liquidate their inventory which represents significant packaging and labor costs to make compliant."

 

 

 

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13 minutes ago, NSXCIGAR said:

I see. Well, since the majority of cigars many people buy are among those poor sellers this is going to be tough. Any cigars that remain will see significant price increases due to Havana House's increased expense to re-package and by retailers making up for lost sales on other cigars. I don't see how any retailer there can stay in business at this point. 

I see something like this as a backdoor way to outright ban cigars. You don't need to outlaw something if you make selling it sufficiently onerous.

Majority of cigars in a reasonably priced market. Due to the cheapest Petit Corona at Canadian retail price being more expensive than a siglo ii on the net, Canadian retail sales tend to go towards cheaper cigars, where the consumer is less invested in the exact dirt cheap PC cigar they are getting (romeo 1, 2, 3, mille fleurs, etc.). Those will probably make up an even bigger share of sales going forward.

Dedicated cigar shops will probably be in trouble. If there are still those random convenience stores that sell those cheapie cigars they might still sell a few.

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1 minute ago, Bijan said:

Dedicated cigar shops will probably be in trouble. If there are still those random convenience stores that sell those cheapie cigars they might still sell a few.

Originally I estimated 50% of dedicated cigar shops in Canada would be out of business by the end of 2021. With COVID-19 it might be July of 2021. 

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One has to question whether this will have any positive effect beyond appeasing public health advocates. From a revenue perspective it's obviously not going to be positive, and it may even have a net-negative public health outcome. As people become dissatisfied with plain packaged option and cigar stores close, they are more likely to seek cigars online for less money. They may end up smoking more! 

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10 minutes ago, MrBirdman said:

One has to question whether this will have any positive effect beyond appeasing public health advocates. From a revenue perspective it's obviously not going to be positive, and it may even have a net-negative public health outcome. As people become dissatisfied with plain packaged option and cigar stores close, they are more likely to seek cigars online for less money. They may end up smoking more! 

I can personally confirm that this is the case. :cigar:

But government policy in this area was never logical or consistent.

Even the taxation being by price instead of by weight makes people smoke more cheaper cigars instead of fewer more expensive cigars as would be the case with taxation by weight.

Anyways it seems like this government is now interested in following international trends. So cannabis in, tobacco out.

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Seems odd to not keep cardboard 5-packs. I would think shifting most sales to cardboard 3 or 5 packs would increase sales by making the purchase price accessible to more consumers. It should offset some of the cabinet packaging cost, too. Should be able to package in that line from a dedicated packaging run in the factory. Plain packaging: right up the alley of socialist govt.

But I digress... “YOU do not change Cuba, CUBA changes you....”

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8 minutes ago, La_Tigre said:

Seems odd to not keep cardboard 5-packs. I would think shifting most sales to cardboard 3 or 5 packs would increase sales by making the purchase price accessible to more consumers. It should offset some of the cabinet packaging cost, too. Should be able to package in that line from a dedicated packaging run in the factory. Plain packaging: right up the alley of socialist govt.

But I digress... “YOU do not change Cuba, CUBA changes you....”

A lot of sales in singles in Canada. That's all I bought before except for duty free. I believe no discounts by volume in Canada (just as Cuba) so no incentive to get a 3, 5, or any other number pack, except nicer packaging (which will be gone with plain packaging...).

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7 minutes ago, Bijan said:

A lot of sales in singles in Canada. That's all I bought before except for duty free. I believe no discounts by volume in Canada (just as Cuba) so no incentive to get a 3, 5, or any other number pack, except nicer packaging (which will be gone with plain packaging...)


Most people have brands they buy as creatures of habit. 3 or 5 pack makes for easier portability of your brand fave and protects them from damage. If the consumer behavior is to only buy and consume singles at the point of purchase, cigars are as dead as Chateaubriand.

I’m also thinking more volume increase through more vending outlets. I suppose competing with the budget cigars isn’t a Cuban type of market? Should it be?

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7 minutes ago, La_Tigre said:


Most people have brands they buy as creatures of habit. 3 or 5 pack makes for easier portability of your brand fave and protects them from damage. If the consumer behavior is to only buy and consume singles at the point of purchase, cigars are as dead as Chateaubriand.

I’m also thinking more volume increase through more vending outlets. I suppose competing with the budget cigars isn’t a Cuban type of market? Should it be?

Lot of sales of the cheap single tubos (and single tubos in general), like the RyJ 1, 2, 3 and the like for reasons you cite. But even when taking them home I'd rather pick singles out of a box. The nice cigars you're thinking of in tubos anything Cohiba, anything larger than a PC are pretty expensive to be buying 5 of at no discount.

You have to realize that Canadian taxes are somewhere between 200% to 300% of retail price...

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4 hours ago, JohnS said:

I encourage members to have a look at the de-listed stock from May 2021 onwards. That is quite incredible!

It is indeed very incredible 

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