Kivikylä: It started in a smoke sauna

Text: Kreetta Haaslahti Photos: Julia Hannula

Kivikylä of Lappi, near Rauma, is where the story of a residential smoke house began at the end of the 1970s. Built initially for people in 1927, the smoke sauna was turned suitable for ham and that is where Jari Laihonen's father started to smoke Christmas meats.

Initially, the sauna was used mainly for smoking ham for the needs of local people on Christmas and other special holidays. There was always an announcement in the newspaper when the sauna was going to be heated up. Jari Laihonen learned his father's smoking skills and, in 1992, he established Kivikylän Kotipalvaamo Oy. Around the same time, Kivikylä started to acquire meat and smoke it for sale in addition to smoking the meat received from the villagers.

– Still to this day, Kivikylä acquires meat by fetching it from local farms, says Jari Hakala, smoke house supervisor.

Palvaamon työnjohtaja Jari Hakala pitää liekkiä yllä saunan pesässä © Julia Hannula
Jari Hakala, smoke house supervisor, maintaining the flame in the sauna.

The best smoked meat by traditional means

In 1995, Kivikylän Kotipalvaamo was granted the Finland's Best smoked meat award. That year, Jari Laihonen hired his first employee.

– Nowadays, Kivikylän Kotipalvaamo has approximately 240 employees and three factories. The factory in Lappi is where carcasses are cut and meat is smoked, the factory in Huittinen is for sausages and the factory in Säkylä produces e.g. poultry products and processed ground beef, such as patties and meatballs, Hakala explains.

"With love from our own province" is Kivikylä's slogan. The company has always respected traditions but many other things help to make operations successful.
– As the company grows, we have relied on our uncompromising trust in our own operations, people and artisanal skills, high-quality and healthy domestic meat and of course the sense of taste.

Kivikylän Lapin tehtaanmyymälässä riittää valikoimaa
Kivikylä's outlet store in Lappi has an extensive selection.

Huiluntuhti and other favourites

Today, Kivikylä's most popular products are the Huiluntuhti grilling sausage, Wanhanajan frankfurters, Palvari meatballs, pulled pork and the KunkkuKinkku ham – the same traditional and awarded smoked ham, only nowadays it comes sliced and packaged.
– Even the packages are made locally, as it is the result of collaboration between four Satakunta-based companies: Eskimo, Westpak, Starcke and us.

Novelty products rely on poultry grown at domestic family farms.
– Pulled turkey, turkey frankfurters and turkey sausages are naturally made from Finnish meat.

Fighting the recession with Hullulenkki

Some of Kivikylä's products, such as Huiluntuhti, Wanhanajan frankfurters and Palvari meatballs, are available throughout Finland. Some other products, on the other hand, are sold only at the company's own stores and mobile stores. The spring of 2016 saw the completion of an extensive renovation at the Huittinen outlet store, when the sausage-shaped Hullulenkki was opened.

Initially, the goal was to expand the small store but Managing Director Laihonen decided it would make sense to do something a little different while they were at it anyways.

– There had been a lot of negativity and economic downturns so this is our way of bringing some joy to people.

It would not be easy to come up with a better location for the store with a funny shape.
– Crazy man from Huittinen, that's what the town is known for anyways, even Hakala notes.

Tuija Nordlund palvelee asiakkaita ilolla
At the outlet store in Lappi, one of the happy employees serving customers is Tuija Nordlund.

The factory in Huittinen is for the most part a sausage factory so in that sense, too, the sausage-shape store more than fits the image. The customers seem to agree.
– This heaven for sausage enthusiasts has been received very well and people have been busy shopping.

In addition to outlet stores, mobile stores are an important sales channel. Mobile stores have been touring the country since the end of the 1990s.
– People have been great at finding their way to our mobile stores. These vehicles have been dubbed as extensions to our outlet stores because they offer samples of our new and experimental products.

The future seems bright for Kivikylä, who trusts local food.
– We have always been of the opinion that you have to know where your food comes from. This way, we can guarantee the freshness and cleanliness of food. These days, consumers are even more particular and aware of these things and it is only a good thing for us.

Myyntiautot kuljettavat satakuntalaista ruokaa turuille ja toreille ympäri maan
Kivikylä's mobile stores transport food from Satakunta to market places across the country.