The tobacco plant is in the same botanical family as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplants.
Tobacco grows in more than 100 countries, from 50° northern to 40° southern latitude. China grows the most, followed by Brazil, India, USA, Zimbabwe, and Turkey.
Tobacco thrives in poorer soils, providing farmers with a welcome alternative crop. In many cases, it provides a higher income than any other smallholder crop. It integrates well into environmentally friendly crop rotations, benefiting subsequent crops like maize.
Virginia tobacco is named after the US state where it was first cultivated. It is also called 'bright tobacco' because of its yellow to orange colour achieved during flue-curing. It grows particularly well in subtropical regions with light rainfall, such as Georgia (USA), southern Brazil and Zimbabwe. Classic English brands like Benson & Hedges and Dunhill use mainly Virginia tobacco.
Burley is a slightly lighter shade of green than Virginia. After being air-cured, the tobacco turns brown with virtually no sugars left in the leaf, giving it an almost cigar-like taste. It needs heavier soils and more fertiliser than Virginia. The best Burley is grown in the USA, Central America, Malawi and Uganda. Combined with Virginia and Oriental tobacco, it makes up an American Blend, as used in brands like Lucky Strike or Pall Mall.
Oriental is the smallest and hardiest type, grown in the hot summer of the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East. These conditions and a high planting density create an aromatic flavour, enhanced by sun-curing.
We buy tobacco from over 100,000 contracted farmers and third-party suppliers around the globe. These are mainly in developing countries and emerging economies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We work with tobacco farmers and other suppliers to promote high ethical, environmental and workplace standards across our supply chain