Two decades of joint work have been enough to encourage BRASCUBA to stay in Cuba another 50 years. Created in 1995, with Brazilian capital, the company intends to extend its presence here, but in a new home.
The joint Cuban-Brazilian enterprise, which has to date been located in the Havana neighborhood of Luyano, is among the first companies authorized to operate in the Mariel Special Development Zone.
In the opinion of the young public relations specialist for BRASCUBA Cigarrillos S.A., Maite Mayea, the company has dynamized the Cuban cigarette industry and helped to transform its market, with a portfolio of products to satisfy the demands of a variety of consumers, reinvigorating its commercial offerings.
With five brands (Popular, H. Upmann, Hollywood, Cohiba and Lucky Strike), BRASCUBA is responsible for manufacturing and distributing Cuban cigarettes, in both the national market and for export.
Mayea assured Granma International that having a factory in Mariel has inspired all employees, since it means a longer life for BRASCUBA, which has plans to double production, to reach an annual total of three trillion units, using the most advanced technology.
The company has consistently expanded over the years, outgrowing their current facilities, Mayea said, adding, "Sometimes there is noise and lots of dust that bothers the neighbors, plus everything will be subject to a rigorous control system, as required by international standards, to protect the environment."
Mayea added that the expansion to Mariel, some 40 kilometers west of the capital, will mean more space, both for production and storage, and allow the company to take advantage of the Special Development Zone's incentives to promote further growth.
MORE AND BETTER PRODUCTS
BRASCUBA was one of the first joint ventures established after foreign investment in Cuba was approved in 1995. Photo: Alberto Borrego
Popular and H. Upmann are the company's lowest priced products; Hollywood is mid-priced; while Cohiba and Lucky Strike are the premium lines. All have been expanded to provide a total of 18 options, to satisfy a variety of tastes.
Thus, among other choices, Popular is offering black mint, the first in Cuba, and more originals, both strong and light. H. Upmann has the Select line and no filter cigarettes, while fresh Hollywoods and Lucky Strikes have capsules to activate the mint taste.
Lucky Strike and Hollywood are Brazilian brands, but H. Upmann is BRASCUBA top product, generating the most income, according to the public relations specialist.
Mayea explained that hotels and restaurants distribute the strong Cohiba cigarettes - originals (100% black tobacco) and favorites (a special blend of 70% blonde tobacco and 39% black.)
The strong Cohíbas are in high demand in the Middle East, while the milder version is popular in Bolivia and other markets.
Destined for export, along with the Cohibas, Mayea adds, is the Popular Reserve line, created specifically for the Spanish market, saying, "Although Spain is BRASCUBA's largest external market, given the international trend we call the 'blonding of consumption' (milder cigarettes are being smoked), Brazilian demand is increasing."
Iraq, Syria, Bulgaria, Dubai and Russia fill out the list of BRASCUBA's international markets, while Japan and Hong Kong, with very demanding customers, are in the company's sights.
BRASCUBA was one of the first joint ventures established after foreign investment in Cuba was approved, created by a merger with the Tobacco Enterprises Union (currently Tabacuba), a state company affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, which maintains the tradition of producing the world's best cigars.
BRASCUBA has the option of selecting Cuban tobacco leaves or acquiring them from prestigious international growers, as is the case for other cigarette components, such as aluminum, paper and filters. / By Katheryn Felipe - Granma.