Menendez Amerino, the largest cigar producer in Brazil, is betting on the Arab market so as to grow. The first sales to the region took place last year, to Lebanon, and totalled US$ 28,000.
For the next three years, the company intention is to be present in another four Arab countries. Menendez Amerino plans to export around US$ 100,000 a year to the Arab world.
The discovery of the Arab consumer market took place in 2003. “We did some research and discovered that there is an upper middle class in cities like Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates and Beirut, in Lebanon, where it is fashionable to smoke cigars in public places like bars, cafés, restaurants and hotels,” stated Odair Violim, the export manager at Menendez.
So as to win clients in the Arab world, the company has a partner in Lebanon who works on the distribution of the products.
“We are also sending material via Brazilian embassies and consulates in the Middle East, and are also visiting countries,” stated Violim.
Menendez Amerino has 80% of the Brazilian cigar and cigarillo market. The company, installed in the city of São Gonçalo dos Campos, in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, was established in 1977 by businessman Mário Amerino Portugal, from Bahia, and by the Menendez family, producers of the legendary Cuban Montecristo and H. Upmann cigars.
The Menendez produced cigars in Cuba up to 1960, when Fidel Castro seized power and took over the cigar industry. At the time, the family left to the Canary Islands, with the intention of producing cigars with the same quality as the Cubans.
It was then that the Menendez discovered tobaccos from Bahia, presented to them by businessman Amerino Portugal. Menendez Amerino was born at that time. The company is currently run by Félix Menendez, in the third generation of cigar makers.
Menendez cigars are entirely artistic, from the planting to the wooden packages, the company controls all production processes.
The tobacco is cultivated through partnerships with cities and farmers who produce exclusively for the company, which supplies technical assistance, inputs and technology to the partners.
The company’s line of products include the Alonso Menendez, Dona Flor and Aquarius Século XXI cigars, as well as the Gabriela and St. James cigarillos.
In 2004 the company produced around 2.5 million cigars (hand rolled) and 4 million cigarillos. Of the total produced, less than 20% was turned to the foreign market.
The United States, Europe – mainly Germany – and Argentina are the main consumers of company products.
Telephone: (+55 11) 4772-8400