Nicotine Volumes Down for End of March

Pantry loading from start of coronavirus pandemic to affect data a year later
nicotine pouches
Photograph: Shutterstock

NEW YORK —Nicotine volume was down 2.8% year-over-year for the two weeks ending on March 27, according to a report from Goldman Sachs Managing Director Bonnie Herzog. The negative volumes are expected to continue, the New York-based investment firm said.

“We expect volumes to turn more negative once we start to lap some of the more pronounced effects of COVID (i.e., pantry-loading) from last year,” Herzog said.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening in tobacco segments in the United States (growth is for the two weeks ending on March 27 compared to the prior year unless otherwise stated):

  • Cigarettes: While all channel cigarette dollar sales were up 2.7%, volume sales were down 4.3%. Several cigarette makers have recently increased priced packs. Richmond, Va.-based Altria increased its cigarette prices 14 cents per pack in January while London-based British American Tobacco’s increase for the same amount took effect on April 5.  
  • E-cigarettes: Dollar sales growth for e-cigarettes increased 6.1%, and was up 13.7% for the 12-weeks ending on March 27. Juul led category volume trends with volume decelerating, up 0.7%. Vuse, from Winston-Salem, N.C.-based R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co., increased 87.3% in volume sales. The category continues to be driven by the e-cigarette refill market, which is 82% of the total category, and was affected by the FDA’s flavored cartridge ban in February 2020.  
  • Smokeless: Modern oral nicotine remains strong in the smokeless category—all channel smokeless dollar sales growth was up 2.2%. Oral nicotine brands Zyn, from Stockholm-based Swedish Match, and Altria’s On showed continued growth with volumes up 47.5% and 739%, respectively. Velo, from R.J. Reynold’s Vapor Co., was up 12.6% in volume.

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