HBI® Tobacco International
HBI® News
Untitled Document

Q: Why do Natural Leaf Wrappers cost more than the Homogenized ones?
A: Basically when you use a natural leaf, you have to use just the center section of select low-vein premium broadleaf tobacco.  When you used homogenized, they take the scraps, stems and “junk” tobacco and mash it into a pulp, then reconstitute it with some wood cellulose into a paper like material (which is what most cigar wraps are made out of). 
Here is an article that better explains it, from all the way back in 1956:


Monday, Jun. 18, 1956
The cigar industry had news for the shade of Vice President Thomas ("What this country needs . . .") Marshall. Thanks to a new process, an improved 5˘ cigar was on sale across the U.S. After nearly a century, tobacco makers have found a way to turn damaged leaves and leftovers into a synthetic leaf that is milder and cheaper than natural tobacco.

The synthetic leaf, called HTL (for "homogenized tobacco leaf," was first developed by General Cigar Co., fourth biggest U.S. cigar maker. Now in use in General Cigar's bestselling nickel brands, Robert Burns Cigarillos and William Penn cigars, HTL is rapidly finding its way into more expensive cigars. Virtually every other U.S. cigar and cigarette maker is either experimenting with "reconstituted" tobacco or actually using it. The new process is not only stirring the biggest technical shake-up in the industry since cigarettes; it has already greatly altered the market for raw tobacco, U.S. farmers' sixth most valuable cash crop. Predicts Nu-Way Tobacco Co.'s Jean Shepard Jr., who is making the binder for about 15 cigar makers: "Inside of two years, there won't be a cigar maker in the U.S. who doesn't use it."

"Fantastic Acceptance." General Cigar claims "fantastic consumer acceptance" for HTL, which is used in place of conventional "binder," the layer of tobacco (12% of the cigar) that is sandwiched be tween inside "filler" and outer "wrapper." General has already licensed its process to other U.S. and foreign cigar makers, many of whom expect HTL to cut the cost of 10˘ cigars by 40˘ per 100. American Machine & Foundry Co. has developed another process for homogenized tobacco binder, also has patents on machines to turn out man-made leaf, which cigarette makers shred for filler. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Camels, Winstons) recently disclosed that it had been using yet another reconstituting process "for a number of years."

The major advantage of homogenization is that scraps and stems (up to 30% of the leaf) that are now discarded can be pulverized, mixed with a cellulose adhesive and squeezed out in continuous rolls. For both cigar and cigarette makers, man-made leaf means a big cut in the cost of handling, grading and curing tobacco. Cigar makers who have switched to HTL binder can use imperfect broad-leaf (costing only 30˘ per lb. v. high-grade broadleaf costing up to 60˘), find they need 50% less tobacco. Southern growers are complaining that use of man-made leaf in cigarettes will depress the market even further for the high-grade, high-priced "Bright leaf" they have cultivated for decades. Tobacco production, say New England farmers, may have to be slashed as much as 50%.

"Mild & Pleasant." By lowering prices and increasing demand, counter the manufacturers, HTL should eventually assure tobacco farmers a stable market. The new process will allow growers to sell scarred or storm-torn tobacco which is now unsalable; up to 40% of New England's cigar binder has to be scrapped each year because of weather damage and imperfections. Moreover, the market for high-grade cigarette tobacco has already been hurt by the rise of filter tips (more than 20% of all U.S. cigarette sales in 1955), which, say tobacco experts, generally contain less expensive tobaccos than non-filtered cigarettes. The industry also maintains that homogenized tobacco tastes better. After passing around HTL cigars, growers from Connecticut's Hartford County reported that they were "mild and pleasant."