Röda Lacket - originally from Sweden's largest tobacco fields
The Russians burned the city of Norrköping to the ground. Forty years later, a young man arrived with the permission to grow tobacco. Within just a few decades, he made sure that an area big as 1500 tennis courts was covered with yellow leaves. The young man manufactured seven different qualities of snus. The most famous: Röda lacket.
He was only 25 years old and he wanted to manufacture snus
The young man came from the Bergslagen mining region up north. His name was Petter Swartz. He introduced the Italian double-entry bookkeping in the city and refused to let go of his dream; to start his own snus factory. It started as a rather humble operation in the year 1753, but things were soon about to change. Petter had called on his brother, Olof Swartz, and together they created an efficient manufacturing process from bottom up. Horses propelled the grinder via a giant cog-wheel, (the steam engine had barely been invented at this time). Soon they turned to water for powering their impressive factory complex. The tobacco fields grew - when production was at its peak, they covered an area of almost 395000 square meters - or just above 1500 tennis courts. The harvested tobacco was air cured in three gigantic wooden barns that were painted in the typical red, Swedish color. Several different recipes became the foundation of the Swartz empire.
The most famous and also most successful was Röda Lacket (The Red Seal) which was soon sold in Stockholm and later all over the country. The company was passed on from father to son along with the secret snus through six generations and needless to say, the family became very wealthy. In fact, the city of Norrköping have the Swartzes to thank for both their library and arts museum.
Not only was Petter Swartz a generous man. He was also a smart man. In the year 1772 he founded a private school where students were taught both double-entry bookkeeping and carpentry. These skills were needed in the snus business. Röda Lacket went through both better and worse times relatively unharmed, (which is more than you could say about its sister brand, Gröna Lacket - The Green Seal). In fact the brand's success delayed the closing of the tobacco harvesting in Norrköping by several years. In the year 1968, just after the students started to revolting in Europe, the Röda Lacket enjoyed an unexpected all-time high in sales. We can't say for sure whether or not this was an effect of the red, socialistic wave that swept over the world. We do have a clue, though - in Sweden, these were the times for peace, love and snus.
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.
With the character of the northernmost tobacco fields in the world.