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Sep 5, 2017

Author: Mr. Jithendra DS , Vice President – Leaf Operations for Godfrey Phillips India

In our previous blog India: World’s 2nd largest tobacco producer – types of tobacco grown in the country, we spoke about the different kinds of tobacco being grown in India and the advances being made in cultivation and processing technologies. At GPI, we provide customized and unique leaf blends to clients from across the world.

Multi-source tobacco sourcing as a strategy

This has dictated our sourcing strategies, with focus being on procuring the right kinds of tobacco to create blends that can be made to exacting customer specifications.

As a result, GPI has expanded its sourcing points – apart from sourcing various kinds of FCV tobacco and growing non-FCV tobacco through IPS in India, we import un-processed tobacco from Malawi, Bangladesh and Brazil.

Multi-origin tobacco leaves are sourced to achieve different tastes and smoke profiles – considering that brands catering to users in different parts of the world command different characteristics. This allows GPI to offer clients a range of flavors, blends and tastes, allowing the company to be a complete service provider.

GPI’s customers are the multinational manufacturers of cigarettes and other consumer tobacco products. Leaf tobacco is sourced according to customer orders, supply contracts, or customer indications of anticipated need. The tobacco is then shipped to our customers’ factories, which are located in all around the world.

Sourcing the tobacco

The kind of tobacco grown varies from region to region depending on climatic conditions, nature of soil, cultivation methods and water availability. In this blog, we’ll delve into the various regions that GPI imports tobacco from and the inherent characteristics of these leaves.


Geographically, the Malawi region in south-east Africa is relatively obscure, but is among the top ten producers of tobacco leaf in the world. It is also the top producer of burley tobacco, alongside Brazil and the United States. The demand for Malawi’s Burley remains high as the leaf has a good reputation as a “flavourless and clean filler”.
The main types of tobacco grown in Malawi are:

Burley Tobacco: Malawi’s burley tobacco imparts a unique and different characteristic, that makes it stand out compared to other burleys from different parts of the world. It is largely due to the high-quality, fluffy burley produce that Malawi became prominent on the global tobacco map. Burley is used primarily in cigarette blends, with some of the heavier-bodied tobacco leaves used in pipe mixtures.

FCV or Flue Cured Virginia: Malawi FCV ranges from filler quality tobacco to semi-flavourful tobacco and compares favorably with filler leaf produce from other countries such as Tanzania.

Malawi Western Tobacco or Dark Fire Cured Tobacco: There are two types of DFC tobacco grown in Malawi – Northern DFC and Southern DFC. Malawi DFC has in the past compared favourably with tobacco from other parts of the world, and is a category that continues to attract research for improvement in quality. Dark-fired leaves are subjected to smoke from smoldering wood during the early stages of curing. The type of wood used also determines the quality, making Malawi DFC tobacco favourable.

Oriental Tobacco: Oriental or Turkish tobacco is a variety of small tobacco leaf that is highly aromatic and is sun cured. This tobacco is used largely in pipe tobacco production, and is to some extent, in cigarettes as well.

Marketing of Malawi Tobacco – April to September

The tobacco grown in Malawi is shipped to all corners of the world, where it is used in almost all types of tobacco products – cigarettes, shisha, RYO, cigars and even snus.


Though not indigenous to Bangladesh, the tobacco crop is being successfully cultivated in regions across Bangladesh. And though export of tobacco from the country is a relatively new phenomenon, it is witnessing a substantive expansion. Three key tobacco cultivating regions of Bangladesh – Rangpur, Kushtia and Chittagong, produce the following varieties of tobacco.

• Flue Cured Virginia or FCV: Tobacco produced is lemon to lemon orange color with a nicotine percentage ranging from 1.25%-2.20%. This tobacco is grown mostly in the Kushtia district of Bangladesh and is primarily used for manufacturing cigarettes, both as a semi-flavoured blend and as a filler. Some of the bodied leaves are also used in pipe mixtures.

Air Cured Burley: This leaf is average to above average in quality and the majority portion of leaf produced is exported, with small quantities being used for domestic consumption.

Dark Air Cured: This reasonably good quality tobacco is mainly used in the production of chewing, snuff, bidi (low cost cigarette in Asia), cigar and snuff.

Marketing period of Bangladesh Tobacco – April to August


Recent improvements have upgraded Brazilian tobacco to a new quality status and the country has witnessed increase in production over the years. Tobacco cultivation in Brazil is largely concentrated in the Northeastern regions of the country – Bahia and Alagoas as well as the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Parana. Given that the leaf is cultivated in two distinct regions of the country, the produce also differs in terms of the type of tobacco grown.

Brazil produces the following types of tobacco:

FCV: FCV accounts for 82% of total tobacco production and is concentrated in the relatively rich southern states. Quality of tobacco is ripe & flavorful and major blue chips use this tobacco in their blends. The Nicotine ranges from 2.0- 4.0% across the grades.

Burley: Rich and high-quality dark air-cured tobacco produced mostly in the north-eastern states is used in the manufacture of high-value cigars and cigarillos as well as dark-cigarette tobacco.

GPI’s distinctive sourcing capability and strategy gives its customers the unique advantage of getting customised blends and tobacco products from a single source. World class tobaccos from different parts of the world, combined with state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, cutting edge R&D set-up and an almost-century old legacy in the art of tobacco production has made GPI a preferred partner for single-product sellers and multi-national tobacco manufacturers alike.


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