OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) Swedish Match’s expansion plan happens as the tobacco industry sees changes in what consumers are buying and how much is grown.
“Today, this is a new milestone in the history of Swedish Match,” says Rich Flaherty, Swedish Match’s U.S. Division President.
A new expansion. A new product. New jobs.
“I think it gives young people an opportunity to remain in this community instead of leaving Owensboro and Daviess County and looking for another job,” says Daviess Co. Judge Executive Al Mattingly.
All this as an industry sees new changes and new challenges.
“Historically, tobacco has been the number one most important value crop in the state of Kentucky. but it’s not anymore,” says Clint Hardy of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extensive Office in Daviess County.
“People in the younger generation coming up are looking for new things to do with tobacco,” adds Tony Martin, V.P. of the U.S. Supply Chain for Swedish Match.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the amount of acres used statewide to grow tobacco in Kentucky went from more than 80,000 in 2017, to a projected 58,000 this year. Hardy says two factors include less tobacco needed to make e-cigarette and other non-tobacco products, and international competition.
“There is a significant decline in the amount of leaf that the manufacturers need, due to cigarette sales and consumer adoption of these electronic type of tobacco product or nicotine product,” he adds.
While the expansion is focused on tobacco free products, company officials say there is still room for other tobacco products.
“We’re still very much focused on our smokeless tobacco products as well. We’re still enthused about our proudcts here as well,” says Martin.
“I don’t think you’re going to see the use of tobacco products end, but there will be less need for the volume than we’ve been producing,” adds Hardy.