Alliance One’s services include contracting, agronomy, grading, blending, processing, re-drying, packaging and shipping tobacco.
Alliance One directly contracts with more than 300,000 tobacco growers around the world. Through direct contracts, we are able to provide agronomic expertise and technical guidance to help growers improve the quality and yield of their crops. Direct contracting also provides Alliance One with the insight needed to provide our customers with traceable tobacco.
While we contract with many large, commercial growers, the vast majority of our contracts are with smallholder growers. These growers often lack access to the most appropriate seed, fertilizer and crop protection agents that they need to produce the best quality and highest yielding crops. To address this need, we strategically develop grower input packages that can include seeds, fertilizer, pesticides and other products related to growing tobacco as well as food crops, if food security for the contracted grower’s family is a concern.
Alliance One’s extensive team of agronomists around the world works closely with more than 300,000 growers to help them produce tobacco in a sustainable and compliant manner. We are committed to responsible crop production which ensures economic viability for the grower, provides a safe working atmosphere for those involved in crop production and minimizes negative environmental impact. Our agronomists maintain frequent contact with growers prior to and during the growing and curing seasons to provide technical assistance to improve the quality and yield of the crop.
The tobacco’s stalk position, color, texture, elasticity and leaf size are among the factors taken into consideration in the grading process. Alliance One grades most tobacco prior to purchasing it from the grower and then re-grades it when it arrives at our processing plants to better define the leaf characteristics.
We process tobacco to meet each customer's specifications for quality, yield, chemistry, particle size, moisture content, and other characteristics. Unprocessed tobacco is a semi-perishable commodity that generally must be processed within a relatively short period of time to prevent fermentation or deterioration in quality. Accordingly, we have located our worldwide processing facilities in proximity to our principal sources of tobacco.
After processing, most of the tobacco is then blended to meet customer specifications regarding color, body, and chemistry; threshed to remove the stem from the leaf; and then further processed to produce strips of tobacco and separate out the smaller pieces, or scrap. We also sell a small amount of processed but un-threshed flue-cured and burley tobacco in loose-leaf and bundle form.
Throughout the process, our technicians use laboratory test equipment for quality control to ensure that the product meets all customer specifications.
Processed flue-cured and burley tobacco is re-dried to remove excessive moisture so that it can be held in storage for extended periods of time.
After re-drying, whole leaves, bundles, strips or stems are separately packed in cases, bales, cartons, or hogsheads for storage and shipment.
Generally, packed flue-cured and burley tobacco is transported in the country of origin by truck or rail, and exports are moved by ship. Prior to and during processing, steps are taken to ensure consistent quality of the tobacco, including the re-grading and removal of undesirable leaves, dirt, and other foreign matter.