There are disadvantages to SnusCENTRAL.org being in the GMT -6 timezone and our Snus Store at SnusCENTRAL.com being in GMT +1. I logged into both sites this morning and my heart stopped for a minute or so when I saw Camel Snus Original Snus and White Portion Snus on the home page of our Swedish Snus Shop.
After my heart began beating again, I switched over to my email and sure enough, there were updates from our Swedish SnusCENTRAL Team on Camel Snus (not SNUS).
I knew Swedish CAMEL Snus was coming but it arrived ahead of schedule. Our team in Sweden quickly put the Swedish CAMEL Snus up on our website but even they haven't had time to try it yet. Information is woefully lacking at present and my samples are somewhere between Sweden and Texas.
JTI's website has nothing as of yet on Swedish Camel Snus. I did call my contact at JTI who is unfortunately out of the office until Monday but will be speaking with JTI in person next week at the Tobacco Plus Expo in New Orleans.
I will be tweeting the latest developments from Tobacco Plus Expo which will most certainly include Swedish Camel Snus. If you shamefully don't follow me on Twitter yet, click here for Mr_UNZ on Twitter.
I have also opened an investigation into why the SnusCENTRAL Intelligence Agency allowed me to be blind-sided this way. Heads will roll, trust me: this is no "Truth Commission" investigation.
Meanwhile, the Internet is full of speculation and guesses about Swedish CAMEL Snus. Let me put some to rest:
- Swedish CAMEL Snus is a Swedish-Manufactured product made to strict Swedish Government Food Product Regulations by JTI. It bears NO resemblance to, tastes NOTHING like American Camel SNUS, and is not in any way associated with R.J. Reynolds or Reynolds America. Swedish Camel Snus Portion and Swedish Camel Snus White Portion are the current offerings. Notice no Mellow, no Frost.
- Reynolds owns the brand name rights to the Camel name inside the US only. JTI owns them internationally and produced, up until now, only Camel-branded cigarettes abroad. The decision was made by JTI to produce a Camel branded Snus Product secretly. Even in January 2009, they denied any plans for a Camel Snus.
- The intended market was not the United States where Reynolds does own the rights to the Camel brand name but was available in the USA through quality Internet Snus Stores like SnusCentral.com. (shameless promotion)
- Since JTI bought the Swedish Gallaher Snus AB (now called JTI Snus AB), the logical assumption is that's who is manufacturing the Swedish CAMEL Snus. I do want to confirm this as stranger things have happened before. It is made in Sweden, though.
So what are the ramifications of Swedish Camel Snus?
Internationally, it is a positive as JTI has very successfully marketed the Camel brand with cigarettes. I'm sure we'll also be seeing a Swedish version of Marlboro Snus as well since PMI owns the rights to the Marlboro name internationally while PMUSA owns it in the United States.
Regarding the affect on the absurd EU ban on Swedish Snus, this is definitely a positive. Now you have the lobbying power of Swedish Match, Philip Morris International, and Japan Tobacco International combined with the aggressive new stance by Sweden calling the EU Snus Ban an illegal Restriction of Trade upon Sweden. Add to that Sweden takes over the rotating Presidency of the EU in July and hopefully sanity will finally win the day.
In the United States, Swedish CAMEL Snus is a double edged sword. On the positive side, the snus curious Camel cigarette smokers who try Swedish CAMEL Snus first will recoil in horror from Reynolds American Camel SNUS. American Camel SNUS users who try the Swedish CAMEL Snus and like it, could very well make it a bridge for them to upgrade to Swedish/Scandinavian Snus in general.
On the downside in the US, non-snusers or current Camel SNUS users who see people pulling out the round Camel cans and raving over them may mistakenly think CAMEL Snus is Camel SNUS. It's free advertising for Reynolds and American Camel SNUS. And current American Camel SNUS users may not like what appears to be the traditional taste of Swedish Snus. JTI CAMEL Snus could reinforce their loyalty to RJRT Camel SNUS.
Being an optimist, I'm counting on the former. In reality, it's probably going to be a mix of both scenarios. Either way, Swedish Snus gets more exposure. Snus sales from all American Snus manufacturers are below expectations...as well they should be for a number of reasons.
Conversely, Swedish Match, which offers a limited selection of General Snus and Catch Snus products over-the-counter in a (currently) limited number of locations in the United States has been reporting positive growth for the last couple of years.
Internet Snus Stores like SnusCentral.com (another shameless plug) and BuySnus.com as well are reporting increasing sales to the United States. Big American Tobacco is clearly missing the boat. Reynolds and Camel SNUS are the most visible being in the most markets but are generally having to give away their product; either literally or through massive amounts of free coupons. Their tenacity, Susan Ivey's vision, and a lot of Reynolds money are giving snus visibility in the USA; for better or for worse.
The American Snus to watch, however is Marlboro Snus. Where Reynolds just throws marketing dollars hoping something will stick, PMUSA after the failed Taboka Snus pilot in Indianapolis, has been quietly experimenting with different product offerings, different configurations, changing recipes, and trying different price points looking for the sweet spot.
Even in the test markets of which I have the good fortune to live, the evolution of Marlboro Snus has been quiet but deliberate. I'm amazed to be saying this, but I'm impressed. The current incarnation is still not of the caliber of real Swedish Snus. But in comparing the taste of American Camel SNUS, Marlboro Snus, and Triumph Snus, Marlboro Snus comes is #2 with Triumph Snus being #1 in 2009. It certainly doesn't hurt Lorillard that Triumph Snus is made for them by Swedish Match in Sweden.
I'll be doing an article soon on the New Marlboro Snus. I confess I'm uncomfortable doing so and have even bought packs of the current Marlboro Snus and sent them to a select number of snus friends around the country. I want them to reality check me before I finish the article.
Uncomfortable or not; certainly surprising as it stands now, I have always said SnusCENTRAL is committed to the FACTS on Swedish Snus, American Snus, and snus in general. My future article on Marlboro Snus will reflect that, however the chips fall.
[UPDATE 2010: RJ Reynolds and their frivolous lawsuits against Swedish Snus Internet Stores have resulted in JTI CAMEL Snus being BANNED IN THE USA. RJR was rightly afraid as JTI CAMEL Snus is REAL snus, tastes great, and CAMEL Original Portion Snus quickly become one of my favorites. RJR couldn't afford the American tobacco consumer learning that their Camel SNUS is, in two words, over-priced crap. Too bad RJR didn't do the right thing and market JTI's version in the USA. Everyone would have been winners.]
Yours in Snus,
Swedish Snus Ambassador to the United States
Reporting for SnusCENTRAL.org