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STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- One of the largest snus makers in Scandinavia is looking to add to its dominance in the field by tackling the United States. In a move to capture part of the smokeless tobacco industry in America, Swedish Match AB is introducing two new versions of its General brand.
The company is expanding its retail distribution this month, beginning in Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia, according to the Wall Street Journal. To date, Swedish Match has had a comparably smaller toehold in the United States then it has in Scandinavia.
As the news outlet reported, snus make up about 2.5 percent of the smokeless tobacco sales in the United States. Leaders in the American market include R.J. Reynolds' Camel Snus and the Altria Group's Marlboro Snus and Skoal Snus.
Swedish Match plans to emphasize to consumers that General is an authentic Swedish snus that has been made in Sweden for more than 150 years. The new Nordic Mint and Classic Blend varieties will sell at a slight premium to Camel Snus, the WSJ reported.
"We think snus in the U.S. is going to be a big category," said Clark Darrah, vice president for next-generation products for Swedish Match's U.S. division. "Globally, this is the biggest opportunity that we have."
Across the Atlantic, Swedish Match holds approximately 85 percent of the snus market in Sweden and approximately 70 percent in Norway, according to the report. And now it wants its piece of the U.S. pie. The category's growth of roughly 6 percent to 7 percent by volume in recent years stems, in part, from an increase in bans on smoking in public places and higher cigarette taxes, which have prompted some smokers to seek alternatives, according to the newspaper.
Swedish Match began selling General in the United States about five years ago, but sales primarily have been limited to tobacco shops. The company also focused initially on Swedish-American consumers. Swedish Match will expand distribution into major convenience stores.