VILLIGER Söhne AG is a traditional Swiss company – yet, as with other typical Swiss products like chocolate or gold bars, we have to source raw materials and intermediates from other parts of the world. As a result, we not only have production sites in Switzerland and Germany but also 11,800 kilometers away in Indonesia. It is located on the outskirts of the city of Jember on the island of Java, around 200 kilometers southeast of the metropolis of Surabaya. Naturally, one might ask themselves why VILLIGER is operating a factory halfway across the planet.

There are several reasons for this. One of the most important arguments, and this may seem a little surprising at first glance, is to avoid unnecessary shipments. Indonesia is a key growing region for certain types of tobacco. The tobacco grown there is perfect for wrappers used in machine-made cigars and cigarillos. We produce the wrapper cuttings in our Indonesian production facility, which is located in the heart of the growing region. By minimizing transport distances between tobacco farmers and our production facilities, we can ensure that the delicate leaves retain their high quality. The high production volumes – around half a billion cuttings per year – allow for very efficient further transport to our European factories by sea freight.

Werk Indonesien

There’s a fascinating story behind Indonesian tobacco: Dutch sailors introduced the tobacco plant to this part of the world at the end of the 16th century. The powerful Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the world’s first public limited company) enabled the Dutch to gradually establish their own tobacco empire, making the so-called “Java tobacco” very popular all over the world.

VILLIGER employs around 1,000 employees at our plant in Jember, who work in three shifts. Thus, the highly important added value is created locally, benefiting the local economy and population – another important reason for choosing this location. The Southeast Asian island state of Indonesia, the fourth largest country in the world in terms of population (17,000 islands with 270 million inhabitants), is a captivating country that stands out with its unique and fascinating facets, a true melting pot of cultures and lifestyles. Visitors are always impressed by the open, very friendly, and passionate people and their in-depth knowledge of tobacco cultivation and processing. Indonesia has a tropical climate with temperatures we usually consider high and very high humidity, especially during the rainy season.

Fabrik

The question is, what does it take to turn a tobacco plant into a wrapper for a cigar? Essentially, this is how it works: First, the harvested and dried tobacco leaves are fermented and tied into small bundles. These bundles are dried and flattened for storage and transport. This is the shape in which we receive the tobacco for the wrappers from our suppliers. The fermented and dry leaves are then re-hydrated using various methods, such as a steam chamber. As a result, the leaves not only regain their characteristic tobacco smell, but also a supple texture reminiscent of thin leather. The tobacco leaves are now ready for further processing. Our employees then punch the large sheets in the required format using specialized machines. This process is challenging, as the wrapper cutting must contain no unwanted leaf damage or excessively thick ribs. At the same time, it is essential not to waste as much of the valuable raw material as possible. It is therefore crucial to punch out as many cuttings as possible from a single tobacco leaf. These cuttings are then stacked on a roller bar (called a bobbin) and wound on. Good quality wrapper cuttings are absolutely crucial for efficient further processing, as well as the visual appearance and taste of the cigars they are used to make in Switzerland and Germany. That is why each completed bobbin undergoes a quality check by our experts. In a last step, these bars are deep-frozen and transported to Europe by ship. Here, the cut wrapper leaves are processed by machine into finished cigars and cigarillos and shipped worldwide.

Bobine

The “Villiger Tobacco Indonesia” factory has operated since the turn of the millennium. It is a vital part of the VILLIGER Group. The company is a crucial supplier for our production sites in Switzerland and Germany. We use the Jember wrapper cuttings to roll our exquisite cigars. The wrapper and the so-called filler form the actual cigar and significantly determine its appearance and taste. The factory in Indonesia also supports our European factories by rolling and manufacturing individual products for machine cigar production in-house if required.

Curious about cigar production, and would you like to get a first-hand look? Follow our social media channels, or visit our website regularly for the latest news.

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