Snus Around the World & in the Future
Over one million people in Sweden use snus, but what about the rest of the world?
Snus in the Nordic countries
An average of 10% of people in the Nordic countries use snus. With more snus users in Sweden than in Finland. Finland also set themselves apart by aiming to be a nicotine-free country by 2030.
The popularity of snus increases in Norway every year. The Norwegian snus market grew by 20% between 2014 and 2016. About 25% of Norwegians between the age of 16 and 24 use snus daily. In fact, snus is more common among Norwegian women than among Swedish women.
Norwegians like strong snus, both in flavor and nicotine. Skruf is the most popular brand, accounting for about 40% of the market. Slim and All white are also popular among Norwegians.
The Tobacco Act is stricter in Norway than in Sweden. A new law was introduced in 2018 stating that snus packaging must be completely neutral in appearance, which meant that logos, symbols and pictures are prohibited.
Denmark only allows loose snus. The European Union banned all tobacco products "for oral use that is not intended to be smoked or chewed" in 1992. However, Denmark was permitted to sell loose snus because it was considered to be a traditional tobacco product in Denmark.
Snus in Europe
Sweden is the only country in the EU where snus is legal. This may change in the future as stakeholders try to lift the ban. They have tried several times but have failed so far. Most countries, however, allow import of Swedish snus for personal use.
Snus in the US
When Swedes emigrated to the United States in the mid-19th century, they brought snus to their new home. This is why many people use snus in the U.S. today and Swedish snus can be purchased in large parts of the country.
More recently, American tobacco companies have started to produce their own types of snus. Camel and Skoal are the most popular brands that sell so-called "snus". However, this snus is very different from traditional Swedish snus. The American version barely contains any nicotine and has a sweet taste.
Swedish snus is sometimes confused with American snuff, "dip," or "dipping tobacco." However, it’s not the same as snus. The main difference lies in the manufacturing process. Dip is fermented, while Swedish snus is steam-pasteurized and then salt-cured.
American snuff is a smokeless tobacco product from shredded or finely ground tobacco that is formed and placed in the mouth. Unlike snus, the dip is often placed between the gum and the lower lip. When using dip, extra saliva is produced and you need to spit out the saliva and tobacco mixture that forms in your mouth.
American snuff comes in many varieties, such as long cut, fine cut, wide cut, fat cut and pouches. The most commonly used version of snuff is long cut, which is a loose cut product that consists of small strands of tobacco. A pinch is put in the bottom lip, between the lip and gum. Snuff is not a spitless product, so many snuff users carry spittoons. A spittoon, also called spit cup, is a portable, spill-resistant cup or jug-shaped accessory for snuff and chew users.
Swedish Snus comes in loose and portion format. There are several types of portions on the market such as white, black, dry white, perforated white and original. They also come in different sizes including large, slim, super slim and mini.
The loose format is pretty much the same except for the grind. There is fine grind, coarse, and once in a while we see a long cut hit the market, but it’s rare. Long cut is cut tobacco instead of ground.
The most commonly used version of Swedish snus is the white portion. The portion is placed under the upper lip, between the lip and gum. Snus is a spitless product, which means that it’s safe to swallow your snus juice. Snus is discarded once used, usually in the catch lid of the snus can.
Catch lids are a great feature. If you aren’t close to a bin, just pop your used snus in the catch lid and you can empty it when you find a bin. Today, catch lids are a standard feature on all portion snus cans in Sweden. Loose snus cans don’t have catch lids, most likely due to loose snus being more of a mud-like substance once discarded. Because of that, it can easily seep out of a catch lid. Some loose snus users keep an old empty can handy instead, and use that to discard their snus.
Snus around the world
Snus is an unknown product in many countries. But there are also countries where people use other types of smokeless tobacco similar to snus. 10–15% of the population in Sudan and Yemen use mint tobacco. 25% of the adult population of Madagascar uses some kind of tobacco other than cigarettes. Oral tobacco is particularly popular in the densely populated areas around India—especially in Bangladesh, where about 33% of the population uses oral tobacco.
Countries with a ban on snus
In Iceland, Swedish snus has been banned since 1997. The prohibition applies to both the sale of Swedish snus and import for personal use. Icelanders use Neftóbak, a type of dry snus ingested through the nose, but you can also bake it and put it under your lip. About 40 tons of Neftóbak is sold annually in Iceland. A can costs around 3,000 Icelandic krona, which is equivalent to about 20 dollars. Similar to Iceland, Singapore also has a ban on snus and you are not allowed to bring it into the country.
Snus and tobacco are often debated in the media, governments and parliaments around the world. But what does the future really hold for snus?
Snus still prohibited in the EU
In November 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that the previous ban on snus in the European Union should continue. The ban does not apply to Sweden, but the future of traditional tobacco-based snus looks dark in the rest of the European Union.
New snus markets
The ban on snus in the European Union has made the manufacturers of traditional snus focus on Norway and the US, where even a small market share would mean a large increase in sales. The Norwegian snus market is growing fast despite the relatively new law that requires all snus cans sold from July 1, 2018 to have a completely neutral design, without any logos, symbols or images.
Snus in the U.S. has other challenges. What Americans traditionally call snus is low in nicotine, sweet and often heavily flavored. This snus also has its roots in Sweden. However, during the 2000s, Swedish snus has gained market shares due to its higher nicotine content. More nicotine is a trend in both Norway and in the U.S.
All White Is Increasing Rapidly
”All White” is the latest innovation in nicotine. It’s a white nicotine pouch completely free from tobacco. This product is attracting people who don’t see themselves as traditional snus users, and has potential to grow within these new target groups.
In one year, the number of different types of All White has tripled from 10 to over 30. In Sweden, sales of All White has doubled, but still only has 2% of the market share.
In Norway, where the snus tradition is not as strong as in Sweden, more people choose new and modern snus types. As many as 10–12% of Norwegians use All White and sales are growing rapidly.
When Swedish Match established themselves in the U.S., they did it with the All White product Zyn. Demand is high and Zyn can already be purchased in over 12,000 outlets in the United States.
One conclusion we can draw from Norway and the U.S. is that All White grows faster in markets that do not have a solid snus tradition.
The Future of Snus All White
All White portions contain no tobacco and can best be described as tobacco-free nicotine pouches. All White is not subject to the European Union’s snus ban because it’s not classified as snus.
One thing is certain—All White will account for a large part of the market growth. Traditional snus will probably not see the same growth, but is in no way threatened. The market for snus will simply be divided into a couple of different segments that serve different needs for different target groups.