Much has changed for tobacco users in the month since I first started this article. The Tobacco Act and the PACT Act are the law of the land....sort of. Both pieces of legislation are already under attack for their questionable constitutionality. In Buffalo, NY, U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara has extended his injunction on enforcement of PACT and the ban on using the U.S. Postal Service from delivering cigarettes and tobacco by mail. As of this writing, Judge Arcara's ruling only applies to the Seneca Free Trade Association and other Seneca businesses. We will know more after July 30th.
JTI Sweden; the subject of this article, has also asked importers to cease selling LD snus and Gustavus snus to consumers in the United States. Combined with Reynolds Innovation suing Swedish Snus eStores to stop JTI's real version of CAMEL Snus from being sold into the US, for the first time ever, no JTI Swedish snus products are available for Americans. The reasons for this are challenging to understand and will be the focal point of a second article on JTI which is forthcoming.
In this time of anger, frustration and especially confusion for American snusers, Swedish snus manufacturers, distributors, and even State and Federal government entities over the Tobacco Control Act and the PACT Act, I've decided it's time to switch focus. Like you, I'm tired of talking legislative nuances, overstepping of legal bounds, and parsing of interpretations by FDA. My first love in all this is Real Swedish snus. For just a little bit, cast off your frustrations and fears over FDA hypocrisy, tobacco taxes, the perverting of the Jenkins Act, and even the current (but not final) Seneca Nation victory over the PACT Act in Federal Court.
Lets all take a mental trip to beautiful Sweden; Stockholm in particular. This is where I found Per Andersson; Brand Equity Manager - Snus and OTP, for JTI Sweden. Translation: Per Andersson is The Snus Lord of Sweden for JTI.
UPDATED: October 19th 2009! This is the time of year REAL Snus lovers wait all year for. Week 42 of each year is the customary time for Swedish and Scandinavian Snus Makes to start releasing new and special snus product for 2009.
Kind of like Black Friday in the United States: the day after Thanksgiving which used to signal the start of the Christmas Shopping Season. I say "used to" because the Christmas Sales and products are arriving earlier and earlier as retailers duke it out for the big 4th Quarter win they need to turn a profit for the year.
How 2009 will shake out for American retail in general is a big unknown right now....
The Road Trip to Sweden Series: June 2009, chronicles Larry Waters' diplomatic mission to Stockholm and Gothenburg Sweden. Swedish Match AB "suggested" I come visit them concerning the Joakim/Markus in "alleged" captivity issue and some other things. SnusCENTRAL in Sweden: it wasn't like the old Danish invasions of centuries past, but comes pretty close!
June 11, 2009: It was a very foggy morning in Stockholm as our aircraft made the final approach into Arlanda Airport. On our grainy steerage-class video monitors, we switched to the channel showing the forward-viewing camera.
It's difficult being in Big Tobacco and running its snus business in Nordic Europe. It's even more difficult if you are in Small Tobacco, and don't have a cigarette business to bring in the cash while your snus factory loses money annually.
At last count, there are under 10 tobacco companies in Sweden manufacturing snus. There is at least one in Denmark (V2).
Scandinavia sells 220 million cans of snus per year, 200 of which go through the Swedish market + duty free (and leak over to Finland), and 20m which are purchased in Norway. Until the Swedish government changed, and levied a 100% excise tax increase in 2006, and another 50% increase in 2007, snus was growing at 10% per year in volume terms. It's now stable, after a quick volume drop. Norway was increasing excise regularly, and up to 35% of Norwegian consumption now comes from Swedish border shops.
THE SWEDISH MARKET
In Sweden, Big (and small) Tobacco sell snus (and smokes) into 9000 shops, including many independents, organized convenience outlets (7-11, Pressbyran (Reitan)), and organized grocery (ICA, COOP, Axfood). 98% of all tobacco products are delivered by Swedish Match Distribution, a nearly flawless distribution company with roots in the old monopoly. Swedish Match AB also has 87% market share in snus, so the other producers have all had those 'prickly' moments of being locked in the Death Star's tractor beam when they signed with SMD for snus distribution.
This was not intended to be my first article, but as someone who ran Gallaher Sweden for two years (2005-06), I can offer up some perspective on Swedish CAMEL Snus, and most likely do so without pissing anyone off.
Gallaher was the sales agent for JTI at the time, and sold CAMEL cigarette products in Sweden as part of its local portfolio. JTI had always had an interest in snus, and I would often joke about the ‘first order for CAMEL snus’ when their guys would visit from Geneva. The market was growing at almost 10% per year at the time, and the factory had capacity.
Joakim Nilsson is Communications Manager at JTI Sweden. He supplied me with the official information on JTI CAMEL Snus almost simultaneously with its release. We've developed a very pleasant relationship which has given me a new appreciation of not only JTI Sweden, but JTI America.
While I was attending Tobacco Plus Expo in New Orleans last week, the JTI America team was very friendly, very interested in seeing the Swedish CAMEL containers, and generally took the time to talk and answer my questions, even though I was a Journalist and not a prospective customer.
As a police escort led my armoured limousine down Canal Street towards the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, you could still see the signs of Hurricane Katrina. Scattered condemned buildings; other homes and buildings still under reconstruction, but it was still New Orleans. Cracking the heavily tinted, bullet-proof window as we passed a group of restaurants, the mouth-watering aroma of Cajun food filled the limo. The old cemeteries with their beautiful, yet haunting mausoleums stood as though Katrina had never happened. It was good to be back.
Today was the opening day of Tobacco Plus Expo 2009; where tobacco and tobacco products manufacturers, distributors, retailers and VIP's like me gathered together, quoting the Show Directory, "Where relationships are established and business is done".
Today, JTI made their new Swedish CAMEL Snus official with a 10 AM (GMT 1) press conference. I received an email early this morning from Joakim Nilsson of JTI with more information and Official JTI Press Release on CAMEL Snus. We start below with a short excerpt from the email I received:
When is CAMEL Snus NOT Camel SNUS? When Camel Snus is made in Sweden by Japan Tobacco International (JTI); not by R.J. Reynolds in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
FROM: SnusCENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY * Intelligence Briefing for 21 March 2009 *
CATEGORY: Unconfirmed Intel from credible source
General Snus to Target Camel Frost.........
Tweet to @Mr_UNZ
You must be logged into facebook to view this content