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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Snus News and Reviews for August 2008







This month I have some some re-reviews as well as reviews and some interesting news and shopping tidbits to share with you.


I'm working on a truly awesome snus project and it's taking most of my time. Thus the slowdown in new posts. Believe me, it will be worth it! Just hang in there............

Quite a few brands from snus producer Gallaher have been discontinued. The production of the following brands has been stopped and is only available as long as stock lasts. Most major Snus e-tailers are already sold out. And if someone offers a "special" on one of these in 6 months, then buyer beware:



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22 comments:

Marty of Snusland said...

I don't like the Sterk either but the Onyx is a little pricey. That Gotlandssnus sounds good. I'll try some with my next order. buysnus.com carries it?

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Hi Marty!

Yes they do and it's a real treat. Their classic has a taste of anise, which as a flavor, I'm not fond of but those of you who are, give that a shot too.

Anonymous said...

Hey, that whole Klondike thing sucks. They dissed you, Mr. UNZ! I looked at their website. You're right, my son could have had one built by now. Did the guy from Klondike ever get back to you?

You and your mysteries! First the 1847 vs Marlboro crap and now this.

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Nope. Klondike remains a mystery.
As to him dissing me, sure, but there's more here than meets the eye. I'm not forgetting about them.

Big Chris said...

Another term that's often used in the tech world is "paper launch"... where something is officially released, press releases are written, etc... but no product ships to retailers. It sounds like the Klondike launch is the same deal - a paper launch.

Oh well, I look forward to trying all of those flavors... a cherry loose? :) Yum.

So far I've enjoyed all of the Taboca snuses that I've tried - I've illegally imported several cans of the Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta (being a former cigar smoker, I couldn't not try them - they're delicious, like the Jacobsson's Classic, but even STRONGER and SPICIER and a lot longer-lasting in my experience, if you enjoy that)... so I'm happy to wish them the best as they try to break into the American market.

Ah, and I generally (pun intended) like General Stark. I hadn't noticed that the flavor lasted a shorter time than I was usually expecting. Maybe wait a month and then try another can? I've had two cans of it so far and have really enjoyed both.

The Onyx is awesome, of course, but it is one of those snuses that I can't use daily or all day... when it starts running it's just a bit too... rich, or something. I have an open can, though, and I'll have a portion every once in a while just because it "sticks to the ribs."

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Hi Big Chris!

"Paper Launch" is a better description for the current situation...thanks for bring that up. I do hope it doesn't turn out to be vapor-snus, though.

Being the law-abiding public figure who would not do well in jail wearing a dog's head, I've been holding off on the Cuban tobacco snus until either the embargo is lifted or until next time I leave the country. I love Cuban cigars and probably just because of the geographic location, find Cubans to be much tastier than their Caribbean counterparts bearing the same name...and in many cases grown by the same families who loaded by bags of seeds and fled Cuba when Castro took power.

I am going to try a can of Taboco on my next order though.

As to the Sterk, as I always say (if I remember) in my reviews, taste is in the mouth of the snuser. I'm not as upset about the misrepresentation of the taste as I am about the length of time the taste lasts.

That's measurable and I've received emails and IMs from lots of people complaining about how short lasting it is, especially for a White Portion.

And to be fair, I've also received comments from those like you that like the Sterk....although far less.

For now, it's off my list. If SM comes out with a version two, I'll give it a shot again.

And as to Onyx...what can you say? There is only one Onyx.

Hope all is well with you!

Sincerely,

UNZ

Anonymous said...

I was researching "Klondike" snus, and came across this site. I worked for Taboca in Scandinavia for a year, and can say that the guys who run the US business are absolutely great. There is a current lack of venture capital which has them all doing six jobs at once. But I was at the factory in Gotland as the flavors were developed. The factory heads spent weeks in Swisher's W. VA facility making sure the Swedish process was viable, and that equipment was properly installed for true pasteurization.

If Bill Eder is unable to return a call, it's because he's on a plane or at a trade show. Darren (CEO) and Rich (MD USA) are great guys, and very much "old school," so the webpage is not the topmost priority. Klondike was pre-sold to traditional channels pre-July, and the launch is indeed national, a conscious decision. America requires some time to achieve distribution, so be patient.

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Hi Anonymous on Klondike!

The site you reference didn't show in the comment: they don't allow html. Please email the site URL to me at theunloadingzone@gmail.com.

Thanks for the wealth of information on Klondike. In my searches, there was no mention that Klondike was a VC start-up:

In my other life, I've worked with more than a few and especially today, would account for time-line slips. In today's economy, VC's are being VERY cautious and extremely more thorough in their due diligence...Angel Investors not so much, but Nordic American would obviously need more than an Angel's $750K cap.

Bill Eder was actually in the office, we had an appointment, and the reschedule to mid-October was "as he was running out the door". Probably to catch a plane, as you suggest.

In fact, the reason I originally contacted Nordic was because of your last paragraph juxtaposed against the July 24th press release.

If the Klondike product is out there as described (Swedish-Style manufactured), no one really knows it unless they walk into a tobacco shop and it's explained to them.

Everyone I've talked to, emailed, been contacted about, etc. in the snus user community has no idea it exists or thinks its a chew/dip spitting tobacco. That's also the general public perception.

I have spoken with industry friends in Sweden; one of whom has already opened a dialog with Taboca A/S A/S on distribution at my urging.

The VC/under-staffing situation certainly explains and jibes with both the website and the phone experience...more the phone.

I'm familiar with all the C-level execs at Nordic by reputation and they all have excellent reputations; thus my bemusement in actually attempting to communicate with Nordic and Bill Eder in particular.

And now I know it's being manufactured at Swisher and Gotland is where the flavors were developed.

Your one anonymous comment contains more new information than any readily available internet source. Thank you for supplying it!

At the same time, it highlights some of the reasons the VC's may be holding back: not your information (aside from the website insight).

While management may be old-school, the VC's are not. An easy to create, out of the retail box site creator would have conveyed the same information much more professionally for an "under construction" site.

Conversely, the current "under construction" page is so...amateur is inappropriate: careless and demonstrating a complete lack of the perception importance of even an 'under construction' page, let alone actual eMarketing, that the VC's I know would be taken aback and it would be weighed as a serious consideration in their decision to fund or not.

When (and I hope you do) email the website, I'm curious where you went after Taboca A/S, if you're still in the industry and would be interested in discussing this further or other matters off-line.

Any other insights for publication would be appreciated as well.

Swedish and Swedish-Style snus success is absolutely critical in light of US anti-tobacco sentiment, legislation such as HR 1108, in the next 5 to 7 years.

If you speak with Bill Eder, I would still enjoy speaking with him or Mr. Quinn or Mr. Cutler.

I don't know if they realize just how crucial the success of Nordic American and Klondike is in the time-frame mentioned above.

If they do, they're not getting it across to the VC's they're dealing with or I guarantee you have been funded by now.

Thank you again for the information. I'm conducting a study on the "American versus Swedish versus Norwegian" taste preference issue and will include your details about Klondike. So far, the results are somewhat surprising me and not what I expected based on "expert" opinion.

I'll leave you and my other readers with that teaser and hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Mr. Unloadingzone
theunloadingzone@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Mr. ULZ, I think you've been had. I'm in the tobacco business too and that comment from Klondike Anonymous seems a little too inside for someone who says they are researching Klondike. That smells to me like Nordic American doing a little damage control. Bill Eder could even be the author.

What's this rumor I'm hearing about you building a snus super-site?

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Hi latest Anonymous!

As to your first point, that had occurred to me but it was a positive reach-out. I appreciated the info and since I originally reached out to them, It may be the start of a relationship if you're correct.

If you're not, my suggesting it was some sort of damage control could be construed by Nordic American as taking a cheap shot at them. That would be counter-productive and unfair, since, whomever wrote the comment was generous in his facts....not that I don't want to know more, of course.

As to your second question, it seems to validate that you are in the industry and I have no comment at this time.

If you like, email me your contact info. I like meeting new people in the tobacco industry.

Sincerely,

Mr. UNZ

Anonymous said...

This is the ex-Taboca AS guy again. I had found this forum quite by accident, as I waas curious as to how Klondike was fairing in these early days, especially given that Altria scooped up UST days ago. The boys at Nordic American are now resume collectors.

The concept behind Klondike was to get US price/value moist snuff users into snus without telling them it was snus. Then, after some trade shows, their were requests from some accounts to use "snus" on the label, as it is an issue of importance in this day and age.

As for the VC question, Taboca AS, as a Norwegian "holdco" is funded primarily by Norwegian capital. They are ridiculously anti-tobacco in Norway, and it's been tough to get more investment cred in the region. The fact that the snus market is contracting after two excise hikes in Sweden does not help the investment case. It's also been tough to get the Norwegians to look beyond their own borders for cash. But it's happening nonetheless.

In any case, Taboca and NAS know how to make really, really good snus.

As for me, I am "between jobs" in the US after 14 years in tobacco and soft drinks in Russia, Poland and Scandinavia. Anyone wishing to contact me may do so on aj01@poczta.onet.pl

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Hi aj01,

Thanks again and thanks for coming back. If you want to email me your resume, I do know a good people in the tobacco and CPG business in the US and would be happy to forward it.

Please stay in touch!

Sincerely, Mr. Unloadingzone

Smeagol said...

I got ahold of a bunch of that Klondike. It's nowhere near anything Swedish. I am american, in Oklahoma, but I met a bunch of Swedes in Germany at University. The pouches, I really cant tell. I always dipped loose Grov, General,or Ettan. This stuff tastes like cheap american dip, at least the loose stuff. It is dry and does not form well. I am not saying it's horrible, and it was rather cheap. The peppermint is overpowering. like those fisherman friend lozenges. The regular stuff is ok but definitely not swedish.

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

You're the second person which has told me something negative about Klondike. The first is in the tobacco industry.

I hope it's just growing pains and Nordic lives up to their press release on how critical it is to produce snus the Swedish way.

As you'll see in my post "Swedish Snus: Banned in the USA?", we might not have much of a choice left.

I'm still experimenting with Triumph which is made by Swedish Match so I know the quality is great. But they're making it for Lorillard to fit "American Tastes".

I like the Swedish taste better. And I have an email into Swedish Match about how much nicotine is in Triumph. Others have told me it doesn't feel like even 8mg of nicotine and I have to agree.

I'm doing 2 portions at a time to keep from getting shaky. The reader in Ohio I did the snus exchange with to get the Triumph says he's going through a can a day to keep his nicotine levels up.

Perception or Reality? Hopefully I'll get an answer soon.

Thanks for your Klondike review. Like I said, I hope it's only growing pains.......

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is the ex-industry guy who knows stuff about Taboca and Klondike, etc.

Klondike is specifically targeted at price-value consumers of current US fermented product. The process behind it is definitely Swedish, with Taboca factory management, including a guy ex-Gotlandssnus having spent lots of time in the US setting up production. Flavors are pure US-focused (sweeter, fruity), so if you want real Swedish snus, continue to buy it from Sweden. The idea behind Klondike is to get US moist snuff users into snus because of flavor, delivery and price, and not harm reduction.

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Hi Anonymous!

Thanks for the ex-inside info!

Sounds like the same philosophy Swedish Match uses with their
Red Man, Southern Pride, & Granger Select Chewing tobacco in the US, except I don't think SM worries too much about TSNA's with the chewing tobacco.

According to the Press Releases, Klondike does. It will be interesting to see some real figures when the FDA gets into the act in 2009-2010.........

Sincerely,

Mr. Unloadingzone

Jeremy said...

Needless to say I took your advice and bought a roll of Cherry snus from Klondike, and wow you can tell there is a difference, as MR UNZ said its like a 200 dollar bottle of wine and a 2 dollar bottle of wine. The cherry flavor was rather disgusting to me, I just have very particular taste to snus I guess. I'm going to try some more offroad flavors since I seem to have like that one the best, and going to try some catchdry eucalyptus. I'll let you know how it goes.

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Hi Jeremy

As I always say (when I remember to) "taste is in the mouth of taster" (or something like that). Based on your description, Klondike (especially Cherry, which I'm not a big fan of real cherries anyway) I will avoid.

I'm sure some people out there like the Klondike Cherry. I still can't get a handle on Nordic American Smokeless, but I'm sure they did focus groups before they started selling it.

What I don't understand is where this concept came from that, if it doesn't taste like candy, Americans won't like it? I don't think the manufacturers have figured it out either and that's why they are still test marketing.

After all, Swedish Match, the largest Swedish snus manufacturer in the world, said in their 2007 annual report that the United States is now their largest snus market. Even more interesting, SM also makes chew for the American Market: Red Man and a few others.
And Swedish Match's chew sales in the US are declining!

It's a mystery. Meanwhile, you just keep experimenting...I still am, happy snusing, and thanks for the feedback!

Oh, and just to clarify, Alex suggested the Klondike I believe as I've never tried it. And I'm glad you like the OffRoad, but Ice Fruit is a flavor from Jakobsson's, not V2, the folks that make OffRoad.

Big news coming out on V2 this year. I'm not aloud to talk about it yet but it's exciting for everyone, not just OffRoad and Phantom fans.

Sincerely,

Mr. UNZ

Anonymous said...

From anonymous guy:

Don't forget, Klondike is aimed at the typical US discount dip consumer, and it was indeed well-researched within that base.

As for Swedish Match, the US round-can market is 1 billion per year. Sweden/Norway is about 210 million cans per year, and is in decline. In Scandinavia, at 90% share, they have no room for share growth. They can only hope for profit growth via price-hikes, and new excise taxes make this impossible. Many there are getting out of snus and tobacco altogether because of price. General is now similar in price to low-price cigarettes in Sweden, so cigarettes could make a comeback.

The US is the focus now for SM growth as Scandinavia gets milked.

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Hi Anonymous Guy/Klondike Expert!

(trying to separate my different Anonymous's: on the new website, everyone who wants to post a comment will have a name...doesn't have to be their real name, but a name so I can keep them straight)

Klondike also makes portion snus, according so their press releases and many Swedish manufacturers make both loose and portion, so I was not aware Nordic's target market were current/former chew users.

Are you speculating there or do know that's their target market?

If there are real sources of info about Klondike and Nordic American out there other than the press releases, please email me where they are!

I can't talk about it if I don't know about it and, no disrespect at all intended: I'm grateful for the Klondike info you've been leaving; but you are perfectly free to post here anonymously, I get a little uncomfortable repeating anonymous info as fact (unless I know the person and they just don't want their name used.)

But running with your statement, Swedish Match also markets Chewing tobacco in the US: Red Man and a few others.

SM's chewing tobacco sales are on the decline, but their snus sales, portion and loose are way up...and they didn't change the taste from what they market in Sweden.

So the dippers are going somewhere and the SM info above is from their 2007 annual report, which was before Klondike even existed.

What did these former dippers switch to? If it's SM loose, they didn't have a problem with the Swedish taste.

As I stated in my Lorillard post, there was no "American vs Swedish" taste issue until the American Tobacco industry let Camel SNUS set the benchmark.

In many cases, especially with American Smokers, it's what you try first that sets your expectations.

Analogy: If you try White Owl cigars first, Cuban cigars are going to taste much to strong.

But if you started with Cuban's or a high quality Caribbean cigars, you would spit out a White Owl the first time you tried it.

Kudos to Reynolds' foresight and aggressiveness. It's is going to take more effort now for other snus manufacturers to overcome that perception and break into the US market. The longer Lorillard drags their feet, the less chance of success.

Same with Klondike. It is October so I am going to call them back at the end of the month as requested.

Too few people know about them, if they are nationally marketing, and if they don't get that "I'm trying snus for the first time" user, they're going to be in the same uphill battle as Triumph.

I just received a load of answers to questions I've asked SM SE and haven't had the chance to go through them yet.

As to the EU, they made a bad decision in 1992..actually an ill-informed decision. Everyone has been talking ever since of removing the snus ban....but that's all they do is talk.

Their decision was the equivalent to the US Surgeon General only making cigarette manufacturers put warning labels on the packs back in 1964 instead of banning cigarettes. (The $250BB "Settlement) came later.

Swedish/Swedish style snus has so many less risks for the tobacco loving, nicotine addicted user and there's no second-hand snus to bother a non-tobacco user.

The EU, if they were so concerned about health, should have banned cigarettes and, since it's always follow the money, raised the tax on snus.

But world-wide, the Tobacco industry and lobby was and is so powerful and cigarettes are so profitable that it never happened.

But today? The anti-cigarette lobby is incredibly strong in the US: so much so that a ban is coming on cigarettes.

Why else would RJRT and PM have started test marketing it in the first place? And why is RJRT being so aggressive and spending so much money to promote Camel SNUS?

They do market studies. They know what's coming. They know non-cigarette users outnumber cigarette users 3 to 1 in the US which translates into votes.

Once I have the time, I really want to look in depth at the EU market and who has the influence.

I don't know the social climate in Sweden towards smokers is , but in the US, I personally; and I think I speak for a majority of snus users, would never go back to cigarettes.

It's just too socially unacceptable, professionally unacceptable, restricted even without the FDA, and just plain inconvenient to even consider it.

Add the "reduced harm" factor of Swedish/Swedish Style snus and I would never go back to cigarettes simply based on price. Because snus lasts so long, it's still a bargain compared to cigarettes.

I hope SM is focusing on at least four bills pending in Congress which are anti-snus. Otherwise they're going to be in for a rough road for a year or two in the US.

And all the rumors floating around about SM being purchased, either willingly or hostility, by Big Tobacco.

If that DOES happen, then you know the cigarette ban is right around the corner and taxes on snus will be greatly increased.

Because, for both the tobacco industry and the US Federal and State Governments (and probably the EU), it's all about following the money....

Sincerely,

Mr. UNZ

Anonymous said...

From Anonymous Tobacco Guy:

I worked for Gallaher in Russia and several EU markets, including Scandinavia, and the take on the 1992 EU snus ban was always the influence of Philip Morris in Brussels to keep cigarettes in the shops. There was also the spectre of Big Pharma, which was/is interested in snagging ex-smokers and addicting them to gum as a lifestyle and not as a way to kick nicotine.

The snus phenomenon as officially depicted today is a mirage. Yes, snus is by far less harmful than smokes, and it offers no second-hand issues. However, if you take Sweden and Norway, with 9m and 5m populations, respectively, why do they consume 200m cans in Sweden, and only 20m in Norway? Same ethnicity, history, traditions, etc.

The reason is, simply, price. Until 2007, Swedish snus had no excise hikes for 20 years. Cigarette prices rose annually, and snus prices did not. At the beginning of 2006, a pack of Marlboro was 39 SEK, and General was available at 27. LD/Granit were 10-15 SEK.

In Norway, snus and smokes are almost at parity due to regular annual tax hikes in both categories. There is no 'magical upside' there, as some have hoped, due to the low per capita consumption compared to Sweden. And 30% of Norwegian consumption comes from the Swedish border trade anyway.

The "big deal" for Swedish snus was supposed to be the smoking ban, which came into force in September 2005. Any effect of the ban was nipped in the bud by the 100% excise increase in January 2007, which led to a 30+% drop in first quarter year-on-year sales due to consumer and retail hording.

Another tax rise in 2008 put General at the price of low/mid-price smokes, and high-end products like Montecristo are now more expensive than Marlboro.

In short, the growth of snus vs. cigarettes is over, because the price advantage is gone. If General ever reaches the price of Marlboro today (49 SEK), which is probably the goal of the new gov't, SM's cash cow in Scandinavia will continue to nosedive.

Hence, now, pressure on Brussels to reconsider the ban. PMI has a "meh" product out now (1847), which puts them in a position to help, albeit outside the auspices of the main smokeless producer lobbying group (ESTOC).

Another element, which is anecdotal, is the fallacy of smoking-incidence research in Sweden. The last 3rd Party number I saw was 11%, "minus party-smokers " in early '07. Many in the industry laugh at that number. Cigarettes are a robust industry in Sweden, and Swedes are well known to be awful research subjects. Double that number, and add the constant influx of smoking immigrants, and a different picture emerges.

As for Klondike and Nordic-American, let's just say I am quite aware of Klondike/Nordic Ice projects and the guys involved. The USP is true Swedish expertise behind high quality pasteurized products for the American smokeless consumer. I cannot refer you to any independent info, but I'd suggest you contact your local 100% tobacconist for any industry "buzz" on the product.

If you want to contact me personally, please let me know.

Mr. UnloadingZone said...

Anonymous Tobacco Guy...

I'd like to take you up on that offer. Send me your contact info.

Sincerely,

Mr. UNZ

Mrs. Unloadingzone

Mrs. Unloadingzone
"The Girl of my Dreams"