Grovsnus - A snus from up north
It started in northern Sweden, where the climate is brutal and people only talk when necessary. In this region, the coarse-grained snus quality won its first fans.The snus is pretty much the same today as it was then, with that special and very robust tobacco character. A product for hard-core enthusiasts only - well, then Sweden must have quite a few of them, as it is one of the most popular brands on the Swedish market.
From the north With love
The Norrland region is special. No Swede would ever deny it. This largely subarctic area is sparsely populated; only 12% of Sweden's population live up north - and you'll probably find the locals silent, hardworking and not overly fashion conscious. However, if you fancy snowmobiles and hunting, you'll feel just like at home. It's only logical that the coarse-grained snus quality was born in this region. It took some time for the popularity to grow, and more than anything else, it needed the special recipe, created by Willhelm Hellgren. This manufacturer had his operation on Götgatan in central Stockholm - in an area where today's hipsters are flocking in bars and stores of the funkier kind. Hellgren was one of the most fierce competitors to the founder of Ettan snus, Jacob Fredrik Ljunglöf. And just like Ettan, the Grovsnus is one of Sweden's oldest brands, registered in 1915.
When the rookie turns pro
The saga of Willhelm Hellgren is the one of a young ambitious man who started out as an office clerk at Aspelins tobacco factory in Stockholm. While at work, he was constantly absorbing as much knowledge about the tobacco business as possible, and at the same time making plans for his own factory. In 1840, planning was put into practice, and within a decade he was running Sweden's third largest factory along with a chain of tobacco stores in various locations in Stockholm. Through refinements and developments, the Grovsnus with time turned into an established snus brand with a specific recipe, instead of remaining just a generic snus quality.
It's also notable that W:m Hellgren & Co bought several tobacco companies and offered the market leader, Ljunglöf, some serious competition. Among the different brands in the company's portfolio, you'd find Gotlands Rapé, Patent Snus, Mörkt snus, Ankarsnus and Grovsnus. Of these brands only Grovsnus remains today.
When the all Swedish snus businesses were monopolized and overtaken by the state in 1915, manufacturing of Grovsnus was moved in a northerly direction, to a factory in the town of Härnösand, 428 km from Stockholm. It wasn't a completely illogical solution. The bulk of the Grovsnus fans were always found up north. At the request of these consumers, Grovsnus was sold in half kilo tin cans that could be recycled for food storage. It was common to simply nail a wooden handle to the can's lid and use it to fry American pork. We doubt that this would ever happen to another brand of snus.
The Grovsnus brand Since 1915
The company, W:m Hellgren & Co was a very successful player on the tobacco market. Grovsnus, registered in 1915, is the only remaining brand from the W:m Hellgren & Co heydays. It has traditionally been regarded as a very masculine brand; maybe because of those northern roots. Until the introduction of Grovsnus portion in 1983 and Grovsnus White in 2003, the core consumer of Grovsnus has typically been a male person who works outdoors and in his sparetime enjoys hunting, fishing, sports and various kinds of diesel-powered toys. The rich and robust tobacco flavour adds to that image. Also, the coarse character sets Grovsnus apart from all those fine grained snus brands.
If it's not broken
Half a decade ago, the Grovsnus package design underwent a few minor changes - which is just about the only thing altered since 1915. It should be noted that Swedish Match, the manufacturer, were treading with much caution while making this facelift, as the Grovsnus consumers have a very special relationship with their brand. Many of them have been faithful to it for more than 20 years and in their eyes any attempt to fix what was not broken would be regarded as unnecessary. And again, these users are quite a few. Well over 20 million cans are sold every year.
Rigorous control - from plant to pouch
It starts in the soil. Before someone even puts a seed in it, soil samples are taken to a laboratory in Sweden for analysis. Swedish Match experiments with cultivation in different countries to achieve the best possible raw tobacco. If declared a good soil for tobacco, seeds are planted and every step in the development and the cultivation of the plant is carefully monitored. The tobacco is selected on the basis of seed type, location, climate, leaf position on the plant and curing conditions. When cultivation have started, representatives from Swedish Match will visit the plantations regularly to ensure that the crops will meet the requirements. There's a simple purpose for all this care: To ensure that the tobacco that ends up being selected for the various snus blends from Swedish Match contains the lowest levels of undesirable components possible. This quality control continues through the entire chain of production; when the leaves are harvested and air-cured; when transported and later sorted in a gianormous, perfectly climatized storehouse. Then, finally, the tobacco will find its way to the factory.
When hi-tech meets a 200 year-old tradition.
In step one, the tobacco leaves are crushed and ground to fine grains; the size of the particles varies with the brand. The tobacco is then carefully mixed into a blend. A blend could contain anything between 10 and 30 different grades of tobacco depending on the recipe. In step two, the tobacco is mixed with the other main snus ingredients; water and salt. It's then time for it to undergo heat treatment, (pasteurization). After being chilled the tobacco meets the different ingredients - spices, natural oils or even bourbon whiskey - that will give the snus that extra flavor and special character. And then, finally, it's time for packaging. Loose snus goes straight into the can. For portions the correct amount of snus is first wrapped in a little pouch. In the Swedish Match factories, there is a zero tolerance for errors. Everything - which means everything - is completely focused on delivering top quality. Sophisticated instruments measure and control the process along with watchful and well trained eyes. The tradition of manufacturing snus is 200 years old in Sweden, but there's nothing traditional or old about the Swedish Match production plant. If your nose wouldn't detect the pleasant scent of tobacco here and there in the manufacturing facility, you could easily picture that parts for a fighter jet were being produced instead of snus. They even invented their own quality standard, GothiaTek. And that certainly did not happen because they wanted to make life easy for themselves. It's very much the other way around. Yes, those Swedes are a tough bunch.
How to translate 'Grov': Rough, earthy, thick and coarse-grained.