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January/February, 2010
U.S. Tobacco Cooperative

Flavors
of the Future

By Evan Dashevsky

We contacted all the flavor industries in the know to find out where the market for tobacco flavors is, and where it’s going.

As tobacco becomes increasingly regulated throughout the world, one of the most available targets for legislatures is to go after flavored tobacco. In June of 2009, the United States Congress gave the power of the federal government via the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to oversee tobacco products. As a result, nearly all “characterizing” flavored cigarettes (murkily defined as familiar aromas created by additives to give the smell or taste or food, drink, or candy - with the exception of menthol, which will be allowed) were taken off the market and, as of publication, the final status on flavored cigars and pipe tobacco remains somewhat vague. The United States is still a large consumer base for cigarettes and cigars, but also a bellwether of tobacco legislative action to come in other markets (and it should be noted, a bellwether of the bellwether is New York City which recently enacted an even stricter local ban explicitly targeting flavored cigars and other tobacco products not covered by the US government ban). According to Managing Director of Borgwaldt Flavor, Andreas Briel, the US legislation “is negative for Borgwaldt Flavor and all flavor manufactures. [However, since] we have such a wide tobacco customer base around the world, the ban will not hit us existentially.”

This was a similar reaction to other leaders in the field, such as Tom Cravotta, the President of Tobacco Technology Incorporated (TTI) who mentions that characterizing flavors are a very small part of the US market, however he sees a lot of activity (and uncertainty) in the year ahead as “flavor disclosures by brand to the FDA have been postponed from December 2009 to June 2010…We expect a flurry of activity between flavor houses, cigarette manufacturers, and the FDA regarding specific quantitative disclosures to meet the June FDA deadline.”

Roger Penn of French flavor experts, Mane agreed that since only characterizing flavors had been band, the effect on business has not been a knock-out punch. However the real possible trouble from North America comes in the form of proposed (and quite broadly-worded) amendment to the Canadian Tobacco Products Control Act, which would ban all regular flavorings and small cigars, which he refers to as “a draconian ruling for that particular market with greater implications than the FDA bill in US - which is still open to definition.”

Will these North American regulations of flavored tobaccos become a trend that will spread to other markets throughout the world? Andreas Briel of Borgwaldt sees this as a very strong possibility, but it will hinge on the results of a WHO panel, which may go as far as to prohibit all flavors in cigarettes (not just characterizing elements). This move “would be radical and irrational,” Briel continues. “Because there is no evidence that the use of flavorings has a measurable effect on the overall toxicity of cigarettes. On the contrary, all evidence from chemical, toxicological and clinical studies indicates that there is no such measurable effect. I do not expect the world market do go towards additive-free cigarettes or other additive-free tobacco products, perhaps there may be a market trend towards less predominant or more natural flavors.”

Tom Cravotta of TTI is also looking to the WHO ruling, but notes that WHO only has the power to recommend regulation, whereas, in the US market the FDA regulations are binding. Lutz Dörning, the Managing Director of Hertz & Selk is also watching the WHO ruling closely and hopes that “ingredients/flavoring substances should be looked at and chosen based on sound scientific evidence.” And furthermore “We are supporting the aim to review the safety of all flavoring substances in the EU or even worldwide in trying to establish a kind of Community list for authorized flavoring substances based on sound science, however within a fair and realistic time frame.”

The Crystal Ball
As far as what the positive trends for the future, Mr. Briel sums up what a lot of the industry is thinking: “During the last years the flavored cigarillos were growing very fast, starting from a low level. Even flavored slim cigarettes enjoy more and more acceptance in their markets. The biggest growth in terms of flavor consumption is the water pipe tobacco segment.”

Ayse Adams, Director of Sales for TTI sees flavored hookah as a real avenue of growth for the industry around the world. “Demand for flavored hookah tobacco continues to grow globally. New markets in South America and Asia Pacific are joining the existing markets in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. We see a move from traditional flavors towards more complex fusion style flavors that combine different types of fruits with spices.”

Water pipe (aka hookah or shisha) tobacco has exploded around the world, especially in the West where it has taken on as a trend among the young, urban, and hip. And as many of the users of shisha may be light users (or new to it altogether), it opens a market for flavors to be added to make the product more pleasing for a newcomer’s palate. Hertz & Selk’s Lutz Dörning has watched as hookah tobacco has “gained popularity over the past ten years.” And it seems to be a growing trend around the world with fruit flavors leading the way.

Anne Froke, Sales Manager for TTI adds that “hookah usage is showing growth [in the US market] and internationally.” She goes on to state that outside of the US, where TTI is based, she finds there is growth in flavored cigars and cigarillos. Further to that point, Roger Penn of Mane sees a growth industry for flavored cigars and cigarillos in Asia, specifically, but as well as a growing world market for one of the industry’s great hopes, snus.

The Tip of Flavor - Trierenberg
Aromatic plants or specific parts of plants have always played a vital role in the human taste experience. Processed spices and other flavor agents create aromas, which enhances the taste of food and beverages. And tobacco products are no different. Today’s tobacco blends would be unconceivable without flavorings, which help provide a cigarette brand’s identity. Next to the flavoring of tobacco blends, the addition of special flavors onto the tipping has become very popular.

The prerequisite for state-of-the-art flavor technology is the ability to extract the essence of aromatic substances from the plants in a concentrated form. These resulting flavors guarantee a pleasurable and tantalising experience, which often constitutes the distinct quality of a product.

For more than 20 years, the Trierenberg Holding AG has been a leading producer for “Sweet Tipping.” With its different degrees of sweetness this product is particularly popular in Asia. This may arise from the variety of spices and flavorings in these regions, which have been exported worldwide for centuries.

Aside from sweet, Trierenberg has also added distinctive tipping flavors such as hot, sour, and cool. These new tastes significantly expand the group’s portfolio and provide the specific target group with an even broader smoking as well as flavor experience.

Intensity can be varied as required: from a soft touch to flavor at its most intensive. All print designs and full or partial applications are feasible. Not least, combinations with other processing techniques are also possible. All flavoring compounds are food-grade specified products and meet international standards. Most of all, these substances create a new sensuous experience and entice connoisseurs into a new dimension of enjoyment.

Snus are receiving a big push in the US market with some mild success being reported from Marlboro and Camel snus. There has been some world growth with snus in South Africa as well. Snus should be a worldwide growth industry for tobacco. However, currently snus are banned throughout the European Union (with the exception of Sweden, which had them “grandfathered in” as a cultural item when they joined the EU in 1995). There is peer-reviewed scientific data that proves snus are a safer alternative to other forms of combustible tobacco. This would be the ideal nicotine delivery device for a tobacco-wary consumer base that unfortunately, with a few notable exceptions, has no legal access to them. There has been a push from many within the industry to legalize snus. And, interestingly enough, the tobacco industry has even joined forces with some anti-smoking advocates who see snus as a plausible smoking cessation product (it should be noted that cigarette smoking levels are far lower in Sweden than the rest of Europe). Many people are predicting that in the near future snus will gain legal entry into the EU. “There are realistic chances that snus will become legal in the EU within the next couple of years,” comments Andreas Briel. “We are actively involved in the development of new snus products. [However] new trends in this market are still to be developed, as the new potential markets are not open for tests and sales yet.”

Lutz Dörning comments on the possible legal trade of snus (flavored and otherwise) “Being a smoker and with the limited opportunity to smoke in certain areas, we hope [snus will be legal throughout the EU], but we would guess that it might take another five years or so until suns will be acceptable almost everywhere. We cooperate with numerous snus manufacturers worldwide and the advantage of this product is that there seems to be almost no limit for fantasy tastes created, which are appreciated by a large number of snus consumers.”

George Cassels-Smith, of TTI adds “Chances for legal sale of snus in the EU are high, especially since the multinationals are now involved in the production and marketing of snus. Furthermore, with spitless products and proven harm reduction, most of the negative factors have been minimalized. TTI does work with flavored snus in legal markets. In fact, it is another one of our fortes.”

  Additionally, Jack Rothenhoefer, Senior Flavorist for TTI adds what a possible future legal international snus market might look like given the tasts of those in currently legal markets: “We see consumers of snus trending towards complex and adult friendly flavors. For example: alcoholic beverages, fermented, smoky, sour, salt, and savory flavors.”



Tobacco International - January/February, 2010

SMOKE Magazine - Cigars, Pipes, and life's other desires


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