A lot of work goes into our tobacco
The tobacco receives a great deal of care and attention before finding its way into our Heimat cigarettes. The 180 or so growers who cultivate tobacco in Switzerland have their work cut out – the demanding crop needs over 1,000 hours of their time per hectare. Despite the huge technical progress that has been made since tobacco cultivation began in Switzerland over 400 years ago, the work continues to involve a great deal of manual labour. Once the seeds have been sown in March, the plants in the field require regular care. The Swiss growers then harvest the leaves in stages from July to October, with each individual leaf being picked from the plant by hand. Unlike with vegetables, for example, harvesting is by no means the end of the cultivation process. The tobacco leaves now need to be cured and fermented, and it is now that the green leaf takes on its characteristic yellow-brown colour.
625 football pitches of tobacco
Around 450 hectares of tobacco are cultivated in Switzerland – the equivalent of some 625 football fields. The majority of Switzerland’s tobacco growers can be found in the Broye river valley, which straddles the cantons of both Fribourg and Vaud. A total of 85% of the area used to cultivate tobacco is located in French-speaking Switzerland. Only Swiss-grown Burley and Virginia tobacco is used in Heimat cigarettes. Burley has been grown in Switzerland for centuries, and is traditionally cured in the air. The tobacco leaves are hung up and left to cure in a tobacco barn for several months. Virginia tobacco was not introduced to Switzerland until 1992, and is cured in ovens within just a few days.
Heimat: the only Swiss cigarette
And why is the Heimat cigarette the only one consisting exclusively of Swiss tobacco? Good question. Swiss tobacco has not had the best reputation. The myth that it was only good enough as filler proved extremely persistent – until, that is, we proved the opposite with our Heimat cigarette. What is more, the Swiss tobacco market is dominated by three multinational corporations: Philip Morris International (Marlboro, Philip Morris, Brunette, Chesterfield), British American Tobacco (Parisienne, Kent, Pall Mall, Lucky Strike) and Japan Tobacco International (Camel, Winston). With these globally oriented enterprises, the local origin of the tobacco is not the top priority. China is the world’s largest tobacco grower, followed by India. For the international cigarette market, however, Brazil is the most important tobacco-growing area.