Outwardly, the kretek of today is a far cry from the crude hand-rolled products of the 1800. But behind the enhancement of attractive modern packaging and new, innovative flavors, the essential enjoyment of a kretek smoke remains unchanged. This classic experience continues to appeal to new generations of customers both domestically and internationally.
The kretek industry is presently the largest employer in Indonesia, with over 500 active kretek manufacturers employing an estimated 180,000 people to produce some 2,000 brands. New flavors and tastes are constantly coming onto the market as modern research and development methods are employed to create new kretek products. More recently, European food-flavoring companies have developed a range of flavors especially for the kretek industry.
As such, kretek products are widely consumed through the Indonesian archipelago as an everyday indulgence. With so many brand and flavors available, kretek is consumed by consumers of all classes. Some brands are aimed at the lower classes, while others have cultivated a distinctly high-end image.
Additionally, a growing international audience has come to know and appreciate the delights of kretek. For international smokers in particular, kretek is likely to be a select indulgence, one reserved for special occasions.
Another demographic shift has been the emergence of female kretek smokers, a phenomenon unthinkable a hundred years ago. In short, kretek has successfully evolved and changed to keep with the times, without losing touch with its traditional roots.
Klobot kretek cigarettes are the original kretek cigarettes. Manufactured by hand, these traditional cigarettes use comhusk wrappers. Though rare today, they are still made in mral and East Java, usually by elderly women. for an elderly male farmer consumer base.
Introduced around 1913, these paper-wrapped kretek cigarettes were the first commercially produced clove cigarette. Workers would sit on the floor using hand-operated machines to produce the cigarettes. In 1970, government legislation required companies to provide tables and benches for staff. Sigaret Kretek Tangan, which do not have filters, continue to be popular today.
Launched in 1974, machine-made kretek cigarettes prompted a boom in the kretek industry. Equipped with filters and similar in appearance to Western cigarettes, the slick, uniform appearance of these products was instrumental in reclaiming kretek's popularity.