Swedish Match cuts ribbon on $115 million expansion of Owensboro-exclusive product line

May 14, 2019 | 3:30 am

Updated May 14, 2019 | 10:24 am

The $115 million expansion at Swedish Match will focus on the ZYN product line, which will only be produced in Owensboro, adding 120 jobs. | Photo by Ashley Sorce

Swedish Match hosted a ribbon cutting Monday, showing off its newest investment at the Owensboro plant. The $115 million expansion will focus on the ZYN product line, which will only be produced in Owensboro, adding 120 jobs.

During a formal ceremony Monday Tony Martin, vice president of the US supply chain for Swedish Match, said the company’s vision is a world without cigarettes. According to Swedish Match, ZYN is a safe alternative to a traditional loose leaf tobacco product.

The nicotine is extracted from the tobacco leaf and made into a powder form, which is then packaged into a pouch that consumers can place inside their lip without needing to spit out any byproduct.

Mayor Tom Watson, who spoke at the ceremony, popped a ZYN pouch into his mouth before starting his speech.

“It’s an exciting new product in a child resistant package with great flavor,” Watson later told Owensboro Times.

Monday’s ribbon cutting followed a two-year construction project. In 2017, Swedish Match announced a $40.9 million investment for the Owensboro facility that was expected to create 36 jobs. That initial projection was more than doubled over the following two years to exceed $100 million in total investments.

Watson said he was excited to see another existing Owensboro business creating economic development for the community.

“We don’t have a lot of land, as some people might remember,” Watson said to the crowd of several hundred Monday. “This is how we grow. We grow from within, by creating extra opportunities for existing businesses.”

Other elected officials who addressed the crowd were Judge-Executive Al Mattingly, State Representative Suzanne Miles, State Senator Matt Castlen, U.S. Congressman Brett Guthrie and a video message from Gov. Matt Bevin.

Rich Flaherty, president of Swedish Match in the U.S., told the many Swedish Match employees and community members at Monday’s ceremony, that the ribbon cutting was a new milestone for the company.

“It’s bigger than anything else we’ve ever done,” Flaherty said. “It’s going to be bigger than chewing tobacco, bigger than our moist snuff business.”

Flaherty said Swedish Match started selling the ZYN product line in the western region of the US three years ago to a total of 15,000 stores. Despite production capacity limitations, Flaherty said ZYN currently accounts for 10 percent of the moist snuff market.

“People love this product,” he said. “The only thing holding us back so far is that we can’t make enough product to service demand.”

With the Owensboro expansion now online, he said production has grown five-fold. Swedish Match opened up distribution nationwide on April 1, adding an additional 18,000 stores and expects to be at 60,000 stores by year end.

“Swedish Match is committed to Owensboro,” Flaherty said of the $100 million investment and 120 jobs added to the plant. “But based on the way this is going, this is only the start.”

May 14, 2019 | 3:30 am

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