Typically, leaves intended for cigars and cigarillos use are allowed to ferment considerably longer than leaves for cigarettes if at all. Following the fermentation stage, the leaves can be sorted according to their colour, quality and size. Many tobaccos are then aged for two to three years in bales made of burlap, or in palm bark tercios before rolling. Some tobaccos may receive as many as seven years of aging. The wrapper for machine made cigars are manually stretched and cut before they are rolled in a bobbin.
This intricate, considered selection process is time and labour-intensive, which represents a key reason for the subsequent leaf price differential between wrapper tobacco and other tobacco products such as cigarettes. In this regard, the price of a leaf meant to be used as a wrapper is approximately 10 times higher than filler tobacco.
Between 2019 and 2020, ECMA members sourced over 23,770 tons of high-quality tobacco for use in fillers, binders and wrappers. Over 25% of this tobacco was cultivated in Europe, with Italy, Germany, Spain and Bulgaria being major providers.