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MULTICAT is the format used to submit data to manufacturers or MSA. As the name implies, MULTICAT enables the participant (distributor) to provide data across multiple categories. MULTICAT reports are weekly reports filed electronically by tobacco, candy, drinks, and grocery distributors to report sales and inventory floor count to brand manufacturers as part of participating in trade programs. The MULTICAT report slightly varies between different trading programs, but the report standard structure is the same. The reports are uploaded electronically directly to manufactures or through the MSA reporting system which in turn passes the brand data to the manufacturers. 

Benefits of MSA Reporting

Maintain Direct Purchasing Status

For a tobacco distributor to purchase products directly from a manufacturer, the manufacturer requires weekly accurate sales and inventory data reporting. Some manufacturers collect the data using their own systems like Swedish Match, while the majority hire MSA to collect the data on their behalf. Data is monitored very closely and analyzed against the supply chain; if a distributor is found reporting inaccurate data, a warning is issued, and repeat offenses could cost the distributor its purchasing status.


Receive Manufacturer Rebates

Tobacco manufacturers offer distributors rebates for reaching sales quotas. (A quota is set by the manufacturer, and is defined in the purchasing contract with the distributor.) In return, manufacturers are able to analyze their brand distribution data quickly and accurately. Accurate marketing data saves costs and increases profits for manufacturing companies.

Allow Your Customers to Receive Manufacturer Rebates

For distributors that report data to manufacturers, their customers (retailers) can enroll in trade programs to receive rebates upon reaching sales quotas. “A customer could be a retailer or a non-direct distributor.” Retailers that buy from non-reporting distributors will be unable to enroll in trade programs, costing them potential savings in rebates.

Gain Sales Data Verification


Reported data is used by both manufacturers and government jurisdictions. For example, state revenue departments can obtain access to this data to compare it to their monthly filed tax returns data. Therefore, reporting accurate and consistent data to both manufacturers and government is essential to avoid tax audits. MSA data can be used by states to compare to tax reports. A state can request MSA data during an audit.


It is clear that reporting shipments data to MSA or directly to manufacturers benefits manufacturers, wholesale distributors and their customers (retailers).

MSA MULTICAT Mandatory Data

MULTICAT reports are weekly reports filed electronically by tobacco, candy, drinks, and grocery distributors to report sales and inventory floor counts to brand manufacturers as part of participating in their trade programs. The MULTICAT report data slightly varies between different trading programs but the report standard structure requirements are the same.

MULTICAT reports are submitted in EDI flat files. The reports are uploaded electronically directly to manufactures or through the MSA reporting system which in turn passes the brand data to the manufacturers. Each report is validated and an email is sent to the reporter with error or warnings. Complete error free reports are due by Tuesday of the following week. Missing reports are tracked and must be submitted as soon as possible before trade programs get notified of the missing data.

Mandatory data include the following fields:

Product: UPC, SKU, description, items per selling unit, category, quantity on hand, promotion code, and promotion description.

Sales: Quantity sold, ship to name, street, city, state, and zip code.

ALTRIA Reporting Changes

In 2016 ALTRIA requirements extended to include new data. Three new measures were required for the detailed reporting of product returns, including Floor Returns, Salable Returns and Unsaleable Returns.

Floor Returns

Returns from wholesaler to manufacturer, its reclamation center or the original supplier, where the product never shipped to any retailer, sub- jobber or non-direct distributor must be reported in Measure Code 006 of the BID Record.

Salable Returns

Returns from retailer to wholesaler, where the product may be re-sold must be reported in Measure Code 004 of the PUR Record.

Unsaleable Returns

Returns from retailer to wholesaler, where the product is expired, damaged or otherwise unsalable must be reported in Measure Code 005 of the PUR Record.

MSA Trade Programs

Most tobacco manufacturers require distributors to contact their local manufacturer representative to enroll in the trading programs. Registering with trade program allows sales and inventory data to be forwarded to manufacturers on time. Manufacturers make use of the data for marketing and manufacturing forecasting. All distributors must report their data to manufacturers to be able to maintain direct purchasing status, receive rebates and other incentives.

Tobacco trade programs includes ALTRIA, COMMONWEALTH, RJR, JAPAN TOBACCO, ALTADIS, NAT SHERMAN, DOSAL, LIGGETT, BLU E-CIG, JUUL, AND SWISHER. Candy trade programs include Mars Snack Foods, Hershey and other candy manufacturers.

Enrollment Process

Most of the trade programs require distributors to enroll through their local manufacturers representatives. Other trade programs, like Altria and Commonwealth, require the distributor to only request their data to be released from the MSA to the manufacturers.

Reconciliation of Shipments Data

Each trade program tries to verify that distributors are reporting clean data. Each sale is matched against a purchase from other distributor or manufacturer. So, the shipment data for a brand can be tracked from the source (manufacturer) to the end seller (retailer) with location, allowing manufacturers to gain clarity on location vs quantity sold per time. To keep shipment data effective, Trade Programs tracks shipment data and issues penalties for not confirming to the Trade Program reporting rules by reporting accurate and complete shipment data. A quarterly reports sent to each distributor with data results matrices to show how discrepancies in the reported data and require resubmission of shipment data.

MSA MULTICAT Category Codes

To track each brand accurately, category codes are assigned to different set of products within a super category. Category code is used to classify the SKU by product type. Tobacco for example is classified by categories like cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and smokeless tobacco items. Category codes are 4 digits numbers assigned to different type of tobacco products. For example cigarettes MULTICAT category is 3231. Assigning codes allows the data analytics to detects products types across all distribution reports.

Category DescriptionCategory CodeItem Examples
Smokeless Tobacco
Snuff - Moist Snuff 3211 Moist Snuff
Snuff - Spit Free 3217 Spit Free/Snus Pouches
Snuff - CTP 3218 CTP- Compressed tobacco (Tablets)
Loose Leaf 3212 Chewing Tobacco
Dry Snuff 3213 Dry Snuff (Nasal)
Twist/Rope 3214 Twist and Rope
Plug 3215 Plug
Cigarettes 3231 Cigarettes
RYO Tobacco (Tobacco only) 3221 RYO Tobacco - tobacco only
Pipe Tobacco 3241 Pipe Tobacco
Cigars - Mass Produced 3251 Cigars mass-produced or machine made
Cigars - Little 3252 Cigars - little cigars usually 20 per pack
Cigars - Premium 3227 Cigars - Handmade or hand rolled
RYO - Sticks/Kits 3281 Sticks/Kits - RYO Tobacco and Papers sold together (incl machine)
Tobacco Accessories
Tubes/Papers 3261 Tubes/Papers sold separately (without tobacco or machine)
Miscellaneous Tobacco Accessories 3262 Pipe Cleaners/Flints/Lighter Fluid
Lighters 3291 Lighters all types
E-cigarrettes 3292 E-cigarettes
Multi Category Shipper 7100 Multi Category Shipper
Beverage Cold - Ready to Drink (RTD) 2000 RTD - Water, flavored water, juices, sports drinks, protein shakes, energy shakes
Beverage - Liquid Dairy 2100 Milk (whole, 2%, 1%, Skim/not fat), flavored, Other Ready to Drink fluid Milk Products (Lactose free, Soy) Cream/Creamer products
Beverage Food Service - Food Service and Food Service Supplies 2300 Food Service Brewed Coffee, Tea, Cappuccino, Steamers, Creamers and Coffee Supplies (filters), includes carbonated and cold dispensed hot chocolate, refills, hot cider, cold dispensed beverages (tea, lemonade, cold cider), sports drinks, refills, iced coffee
Beverage Hot - Coffee and Tea (Not RTD) 2310 Retail Coffee and Tea - Instant, Ground, Whole Bean, Tea Bags and Leaf Tea (Exclude Iced Tea mixes)
Beverage - Enhancers 2500 Powder/Liquid Concentrates added to water or other liquid providing flavor or nutrients, Include Instant Iced Tea, Syrups and PSD (Exclude all Coffee and Breakfast Syrups)
Alcoholic Beverages
Beer 2410 Beer
Wine 2420 Wine
Coolers 2430 All Coolers, Hard Lemonade
Liquor 2440 Whiskey, Scotch, Liquors
Household Merchandise
Batteries and Flash lights with batteries 4100 Batteries (include battery/flashlight combo)
Flashlight with no batteries 4120 Flashlights
Paper Products 4200 Includes - Paper Towels, Bath Tissue, Napkins, Facial Tissue, Paper/Plastic/Styrofoam -Plates, Cups, Bowls (excluding plastic bags and wraps)
Fabric Care 4300 Laundry Soaps, Laundry Boosters, Fabric Softeners, Dryer Sheets (excludes Stain Removers and Bleach which is a home care), Laundry spray starch
Storage Wraps and Containers 4350 Plastic Wrap, Aluminum Foil, Wax Paper, Plastic Storage Bags, Disposable Containers (Plastic and Aluminum), Paper Bags, Trash Bags
Home Care 4400 Home Care - Automatic Dish Washing Detergent, Dishwasher Additives, Bathroom Cleaners, Kitchen Cleaners, Glass Cleaners, Wood Cleaners, All-purpose Cleaners, Air Fresheners, home care Bleach and stain removers (excluding insecticides)
Home Care 4400 insecticides
Dispensers 4600 food service or Janitorial dispensing machines – e.g. Paper towel dispensers, ketchup dispensers, Femcare dispensers...
Professional Cleaning Solutions 4600 Industrial Use - Includes Floor, Laundry, Bathroom, Glass, Specialty, General Cleaning Solutions (janitorial products)
Novelty 5000 Novelty
Chocolate 5100 Chocolate (All Chocolate Covered Products that are marketed as such (e.g. Goobers, Raisinets, chocolate covered fruit (blueberries, cherries, etc.)))
Non-Chocolate 5200 Non-Chocolate (Boston Baked Beans, Misc), Chewy (Taffy, Skittles, Spearmint Leaves, Jelly Beans, Tootsie Rolls), Gummy (Gummy In Title, Sour Patch, Swedish Fish), Hard (Candy Canes, Lemonheads), Lifesavers (Excl. Peppermint/Spearmint), Lollipop (Incl. Lolis With Chewy Centers Such As Tootsie Pops, Starburst Chew Pops)
Gum 5500 Bubble gum, Chewing, Pellets
Mint 5600 Personal Breath Freshener, Mentos, Starlight mints, Lifesavers (peppermint, spearmint)
Cough Drops 5700 Cough Drops
Salty Snacks 6100 Salty Chips Potato/Corn/Tortilla, Bagel, Rye (All Snack Chips), Pretzels, Salty Popcorn (exclude Chocolate Covered Popcorn), Cheese Curls/Balls, Pork Skins, Corn Nuts, Andy Capp Fries, Potato Sticks, Onion Rings, Crackers All (Excl. Graham or other Sweet Crackers), Nuts/Seeds, mexican tostadas (mexican toast about size of taco shell), fried wasibi peas, garbonzo beans, habas (fried mexican bean)
Sweet Snacks -Bakery/Cookie/Pastry 6300 Sweet Snack Mix, Bakery/Cookie/Pastry, Sweet Popcorn, Sweet Crackers, Cookies, Pastries, Donuts, Gems, Snack Cakes, Pies, Sweet Rolls, Honey Buns, Danishes, Brownies, (Excl. Toaster Pastries)
Nutritional Snacks 6500 Energy Bars (Energy, Protein, High Protein), Trail Mix, Granola Bars (Main Ingredient Is Granola), Fruit Filled Bars, Fruit Snacks (Fruit Roll-Ups, Gushers, Fruit Snacks), Breakfast Bars/Cereal Bars, Nutritional Chips, Rice Cakes, Pop Tarts
Food Snacks 6600 Meat Sticks, Meat Stick with Cheese, String cheese, other cheese snacks
Multi Item Shippers 7000 A total shipper may contain certain combinations of products from the above categories. A total shipper may refer to any of the following: Multi-Item Shipper, Counter Unit, Floor Stand, Promo, Display, Pre-Pack, Power Wing, Deal and Special Value.
Empty Racks 7500 tiered racks, gravity feeds, floor stands, MVE, racks
Health and Beauty
A/O HBC 8000 HBC not broken out below
Razors and other shaving 8100 Razors, Razor Blades, Shaving Cream, Disposable Razors, Pre and After Shave Lotions
Dental/Oral Care 8300 Tooth Brushes, Toothpaste, Mouthwash, Floss, Dental Pick, Lip Care
Personal Care 8400 Deodorant, Bath Soap, Body Spray, Hand & Body Lotion, Liquid Hand Soap, Hand Sanitizers, Body Wash, Facial Cleanser, Facial Creams, Skin Care, Pregnancy Tests
Cosmetics 8440 Cosmetics
Contraceptives 8460 Contraceptives (Excl. pregnancy tests)
Baby Care (Excl. Detergent and medication) 8500 Diapers & Training Pants, Wipes, Powder, Diaper Rash Lotions and Ointments, Baby Bath & Skin Care, Baby formula and food
Feminine Hygiene 8600 Tampons, Feminine Napkins, Feminine Wipes
Hair Care 8700 Shampoo, Conditioner, Hair Spray, Hair Gel, Hair Mousse, Hair Color
OTC - Cough and Cold Medications 8810 Cough and Cold Syrups, Tablets, Capsules, Caplets, Sprays, Inhalers, Preventive Cold Medicine, Rubs
OTC - Stomach Remedies 8820 Antacids, Acid Blockers, Anti-Gas, Anti-Diarrhea, Heartburn Prevention, Anti-Nausea, Laxatives
OTC -Analgesics 8830 Analgesics (Pain and fever relief, wraps and patches)
Vitamins/Supplements 8840 Vitamins/Supplements
OTC - Other Internal Medication 8850 Other Internal OTC Medication (No Dose, Sominex, stimulants)
Edible Grocery - Non-Refrigerated or Non-Frozen 9000 Canned, Jarred, Packaged and Boxed Edible Grocery, Condiments
Frozen Foods 9100 Juices, Entrees, Pizza, Fruits, Vegetables, Desserts, heated frozen foods
Refrigerated Foods 9200 Refrigerated Meats, Bakery, Cheese, Pickles, Spreads, refrigerated food products
Cereal 9300 Breakfast Cereal includes: single-serve items cereal
Pet Food and Supplies 9500 Pet Food, Pet Treats, Pet Toys, Shampoo, Flea Powder, pet food and pet supplies
Frozen Dessert 9600 Frozen Yogurt/Sherbet/Sorbet/Ice Cream/Frozen Novelties frozen desserts
Food Service 9700 Food service prepared on site - Mexican/chicken/pizza, seafood/hot dogs/hamburgers/sandwiches/wraps/frozen treats/bakery/soup and salad/other cuisine food service

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