Alliance One International (NYSE: AOI), one of the leading independent leaf-tobacco suppliers to the world’s largest cigarette manufacturers, has been active in Macedonia since 1998 when it became one of the newly independent country’s first international investors. The group, selects, purchases, processes, packs, stores, and ships leaf tobacco as well as providing expertise to local producers worldwide.
Stelios Grigoriadis, Country Manager, points out that Alliance One has made a long-term commitment to Macedonia. He says, “Alliance One Macedonia invested in a new facility in 2010 which is equipped with the latest machinery, equipment and technologies for soft-drying and packing tobacco. This 50,000 sq m facility includes 7,000 sq m of processing space. It handles all our needs and has helped us better meet the requirements of our customers. We chose to make this investment in Macedonia because the country is very business-friendly and presents a number of advantages. We have expanded our operation here to include 60 permanent and 400 seasonal jobs.”
Partnering with around 9,000 local tobacco farmers
Alliance One Macedonia partners with 9,000 local farmers and provides crucial support to them. Stelios Grigoriadis explains, “Our agronomy department has helped farmers apply new technologies and has offered financing so that they can acquire new machinery and equipment. Supporting the mechanisation of tobacco farming is part of our strategic plan to benefit famers in Macedonia through helping them to become more efficient.” Alliance One Macedonia serves as a benchmark for international environmental and manufacturing standards in Macedonia’s tobacco sector. The company also supports a number of community-service projects throughout the country.
Stelios Grigoriadis says that Macedonia, which is known for the high quality of its tobacco, should ideally produce around 25,000 to 26,000 tonnes of tobacco per year to meet current market demand. He says, “We are committed to satisfying the criteria of the multinational cigarette-manufacturing companies to which we supply tobacco, including Philip Morris International, Phillip Morris USA, Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco, TDR, FDS, RJ Reynolds and other customers. Here in Macedonia, we export around 95% of our tobacco. We make sure that we are always in compliance with local and international laws. Tobacco is one of Macedonia’s main crops, thanks to the support of the Macedonian government. Our goal is to make sure that Macedonia’s tobacco industry is sustainable for all stakeholders.”