Alliance One is a contractor, processor and supplier of Flue-Cured, Burley, Oriental, Sun-Cured, Dark Air-Cured and Dark Fire-Cured tobaccos. Our long-standing relationships with growers and industry stakeholders around the world is built off generations of history. Those relationships, combined with the expansive knowledge of our worldwide staff, ensures we have the ability to deliver a sustainable, compliant supply of tobacco that meets individual customer requirements.
Alliance One purchases the vast majority of its tobacco through direct contracts with growers. Under the direct contract buying system (otherwise called the Integrated Production System), purchasers generally buy a grower's entire tobacco crop. Alliance One works closely with our customers in advance of the crop to estimate their requirements, and we use these estimates as the basis to contract tobaccos directly from growers. In this system, we assume the risk of matching the quantities and grades needed by our customers to the entire crop we must purchase under contract.
Our arrangements with growers vary from locale to locale, depending on our predictions of future supply and demand, local historical practice, and availability of capital. Under longer-term arrangements with growers, we may also finance or guarantee financing on growers' construction of curing barns.
In some tobacco-growing origins, we purchase tobacco at auction markets after receiving specific customer orders or indications of customers' upcoming needs. Our network of tobacco buyers allows us to cover the major auctions of flue-cured and burley tobacco throughout the world. These buyers are experts in differentiating hundreds of grades of tobacco based on customer specifications and preferences that take into account, among other factors, the texture, visual appearance and aroma of the tobacco.