If it’s not Meerapfel, it’s not Cameroon. That’s a pretty bold claim—and one that’s likely to be disputed—but a statement that the Meerapfel family stands behind. And they’ve created a seal of authenticity to guarantee that any box of cigars bearing the new holographic sticker will contain, as they put it, “the real deal.”
The Meerapfel family has been cultivating Cameroon tobacco in the West African country of the same name since the 1960s. Notoriously difficult to grow, the family’s signature Cameroon wrapper is most prominently showcased on cigars from Arturo Fuente. But the Meerapfels believe that the term “Cameroon” has been misrepresented within the industry, and that many companies claiming to have cigars wrapped in Cameroon leaf, in fact, do not.
The family takes issue with those who grow Cameroon seed in other countries and claim it to be legitimate Cameroon tobacco, much in the same way some tobacco farmers from Cuba take umbrage with those who grow Cuban-seed tobacco elsewhere in the world.
Tobacco planted in Cameroon has a distinctive toothy appearance, and it’s grown in the open sunlight in Africa, often without the aid of many modern amenities.
“Without the help of tractors, irrigation and other modern equipment, Meerapfel has been the only family willing to take the risks and face the challenges necessary to grow the rarest wrappers in the world,” the company said in a release.
Although the Meerapfels sell its Cameroon to other clients, only Fuente boxes will be affixed with this seal.
The Meerapfels have been in the tobacco trade for more than 140 years and financed Cameroon crops in the 1960s when Cameroon production was run by the French government. When France abandoned the operation, the Meerapfels formed their own local tobacco company in the 1990s called CETAC S.A. (Compagnie d’Exploitation des Tabacs Centrafricains).
M. Meerapfel Söhne is based in Switzerland.