Marking Up Moist

Altria announces price increases on moist smokeless tobacco products

Published in CSP Daily News

By  Linda Abu-Shalback Zid, Senior Editor

RICHMOND, Va. -- In the next few days, many moist smokeless tobacco (MST) customers will be seeing increased prices on the brands they use. Altria Group Inc. told wholesalers last week that its U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. is taking prices up 10 cents per can on Copenhagen, Skoal, Cope, Husky and Red Seal MST products.

Increases will also affect the company's snus products, with Skoal Snus seeing an increase of 31 cents per can effective Sunday, May 22, and Marlboro Snus Tins increasing 31 cents per tin effective Wednesday, May 18. (Products marked for promotions that are [image-nocss] affected include Skoal Snus with 50 cents off per can, and Red Seal with 75 cents off per can.)

"U.S. Smokeless Tobacco periodically evaluates strategy to most effectively manage its business, in light of marketplace dynamics to deliver value to adult consumers," Altria spokesperson Greg Mathe told CSP Daily News.

Nik Modi, analyst with UBS Investment Research, New York, said in a note to investors Monday that the increases could have an additional impact on MST users. "With Altria's move, we expect other MST players like Reynolds American and Swedish Match to follow the company's move with similar price increases of their own."

Richmond, Va.-based Altria directly or indirectly owns 100% of each of Philip Morris USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC, John Middleton Co., Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd. and Philip Morris Capital Corp. Altria holds a continuing economic and voting interest in SABMiller plc.