14 Highlights From the Tobacco Plus Expo

By 
Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

TPE show floor

LAS VEGAS – Don’t put the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) into a box—a cigar box or otherwise. This year’s convention and trade show appealed to a wide range of retailers operating everything from convenience stores to vape shops.

With about 250 exhibits and an estimated 4,000 attendees walking the south wing of the Las Vegas Convention Center, TPE offered retailers the option to try new vaping flavors, find out about upcoming products and gather insight into industry trends and emerging regulations.

“I come to learn from knowledgeable people in the industry,” said Louis Gigliotti, a lawyer representing c-store operator Westport Trading, Fort Mill, S.C., who told CSP Daily News he gained insight on “branded cigars and creating premium opportunities.”

An array of vendors appealed to multiple retailer goals, from luring the vaping millennial to stocking products for the more sophisticated smoker. “Our goal is to provide products … for consumers who have purchasing power,” said Albert Jose, senior brand manager for Kretek International, Moorpark, Calif., which sells filtered cigars, among other related items. “Our products target consumers who make multiple purchases such as other tobacco products, food and higher-end alcohol.”

As the event’s sponsor since 2009, Kretek has evolved the trade show’s format, this year segmenting vendors into categories to help retailers navigate the floor. Here’s what we saw while walking the show floor:

Altadis

Altadis Romeo

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Altadis will introduce a new product within its Romeo & Juliet line, featuring new packaging and design that’s set to release in March 2017, officials said.

Asian imports

Asian imports

Konci G&D Management Group USA, New York, displayed different discounted brands, some of which had packaging with writing in Asian languages.

Cig2O

Cig2O

Cig2o, Camarillo, Calif., and its popular “cig-alike” product is riding the e-cigarette trend with its kits and cartridges.

KT&G

KT&G

Officials with KT&G USA, Plano, Texas, said they are continually vying for slots in retailers’ sets with their Carnival and Time brands, carving out space next to the major tobacco companies.

Logic

Logic

The vaping category is a $4.1 billion business, according to Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Logic, which makes “open tank” vaping systems.

Nat Sherman

Nat Sherman

After recently settling a dispute with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Nat Sherman has replaced its “Natural” brand name with “Select” for its premium cigarettes, a move that includes a new descriptor on its packaging that now says, “Tobacco filler ingredients, tobacco and water.” Officials on site said they are looking forward to opportunities to grow after the company was bought earlier this year by Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group.

NATO

NATO

Representing the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO), Minneapolis, Josh Pruett, a NATO legislative consultant, said the association is continually keeping track of regulatory developments on federal, state and local levels.

PAX Labs

PAX Labs

San Francisco-based PAX Labs produces a portable vaporizer for loose-leaf product and extract, which heats materials to release active ingredients.

Prime Time International

Prime Time International

Officials with Phoenix-based Prime Time International said they’re prepared moving forward for life under the new FDA “deeming” rules, with current products on shelves today and lines they can revive in the future.

Republic Tobacco

Republic Tobacco

Selling tobacco paper and other roll-your-own products, Republic Tobacco, Glenview, Ill., and its OCB line were indicative of vendors with alternative OTP and miscellaneous tobacco offers.

Scandinavian Tobacco

Scandinavian Tobacco

Building a premium-cigar business means actively merchandising and visually communicating the offer to customers, say officials with Scandinavian Tobacco Group, Tucker, Ga., which makes cigars, pipe and roll-your-own tobacco.

Smoker Friendly

Smoker Friendly

While operating its own stores, Boulder, Colo.-based Smoker Friendly produces proprietary lines of cigars, cigarettes, pipes, e-liquids and snuff.

Xcaliber

Xcaliber

Cigarettes, filtered cigars and pipe tobacco are the mainstays for Pryor, Okla.-based Xcaliber International. The self-described “mom and pop” manufacturer bought Russell Springs, Ky.-based Tantus Tobacco last spring.

Glass opportunity

Glass

Retailers wondering how they can profit from the growing legalization of marijuana sooner than later should think about selling “glass,” or the accessories users need to smoke the product, according to education-session speaker David Bishop, managing partner of Balvor LLC, Barrington, Ill.