To do this, we closely monitor tobacco cultivation, curing, leaf grading and blending – all before the tobacco reaches our factories.
For example, our blending team continuously samples leaf from around the world, seeking the best quality and combinations for all our tobacco products – not just cigarettes, but rolling tobacco, cigars and snus, a smokeless tobacco product.
When our blenders have made their selection, our buyers manage the purchase of our required leaf quantity and grades, by anticipating consumer demand and negotiating with the dealers who manage the supply of leaf to the tobacco sector.
As well as working with tobacco dealers, we also have close relationships with tobacco-growing communities. This gives us detailed knowledge of the tobacco available, the challenges being faced by farmers, and allows us to play of a more direct role.
In 2009, we further strengthened our tobacco supply chain with the acquisition of part of the worldwide business of Tribac Leaf Limited, which trades tobacco in Africa and Asia, as well as two Brazilian companies active in the tobacco business: Kannenberg and KBH&C. In the same year we also established joint ventures with two US leaf suppliers: Hail & Cotton Inc and JEB International.
For the first time, JTI owns and directly manages parts of its leaf-sourcing chain. Security of supply is an important objective. But closer partnership with growers means we can help them increase productivity and quality of supply, which ultimately translates into the consistent quality that our products are known for.
Stronger relationships with growers also help extend our influence on labor conditions and environmental practices in line with our corporate commitment to continuous improvement in environmental, health and safety standards.