There is probably not a single home in Estonia where you cannot find something from Kalev. Kalev is all around us – in the Christmas stocking, in the kitchen cupboard, in the backpack, in the candy bowl. And that’s how it should be, because who wouldn’t want a piece of good – be who you are. Young or old, from the countryside or from the city. Kalev is an integral part of Estonian life and its sweet moments – for enjoying yourself, sharing with your family, giving to a friend or as a gift abroad.

The story of the Kalev brand

Several generations of Estonians have grown up with Kalev’s excellent confectionery, which is associated with many sweet nostalgic memories for many. Kalev’s legendary chocolates and candies have been part of various holidays and family events for decades, decorating holiday tables.

Kalev carries on the best traditions of confectionery making, which began as early as 1806 in Tallinn’s Old Town at the current location of the Maiasmokk café.

On the other hand, continuous product development has helped to surprise sweet lovers with more and more exciting taste experiences.

Thanks to innovation and keeping up with the trends of the sweet world, Kalev is able to attract a younger generation as well.

Therefore, it is no wonder that Kalev is still the most beloved among both international brands and domestic brands among Estonians. Kalev has remained at the top of the brand ranking throughout all the years that Kantar Emor has conducted a similar methodology-based survey, i.e. since 2009.

A sign of favor is also that Kalev sweets are bought the most in Estonia – this is confirmed by a strong market leader position over the years.

History of the company

The confectioner Lorenz Caviezel lays the foundation for the Estonian confectionery industry by opening his confectionery store on Pikk Street, Tallinn, where Café Maiasmokk is now situated. This will become the oldest predecessor of today’s Kalev confectionery factory.

The confectionery store changed hands many times, until Georg Stude Senior buys it in 1864 and greatly expands it. Marzipan figurines and handmade chocolate confectionery were the most sought-after items in Stude’s store. The Russian Imperial Court was among the clients who ordered sweets from Stude on a regular basis. Unique marzipan figurines are made at Café Maiasmokk to this day, using historical marzipan moulds and methods.

Confectioners in Georg Stude’s store

The chocolate and confectionery factory Kawe, AS Kalev’s best-known predecessor, is founded. The product range of Kawe, the largest confectionery company in Estonia at the time, was well known locally and abroad. The company exported a considerable amount of its products to various countries, the US, UK, Tunisia, Morocco, France, India, China and elsewhere. Other large confectionery companies of the time included Ginovker (est. 1906), Brandmann (1901) and Klausson (1920). In the late 1930s, more than 75% of all of employees in the Estonian confectionery industry worked in these companies and Kawe. Several smaller companies such as Riola, Endla, Eelis, Efekt and others provided competition to the large manufacturers.

The beginning of nationalisation and merging of confectionery companies. Brandmann’s company was merged with the Riola factory, and the new name of the company became the Karamell confectionery factory. Later, the marzipan and chocolate confectionery department at Georg Stude’s company joined Karamell. At this time, cakes and pastries were still made in the building on Pikk Street, which is today known as Café Maiasmokk. The Efekt, Eelis, Endla and Soliid factories were soon merged with Kawe, as was the Ermos syrup production facility located in Kloodi Manor near Rakvere. The merged company continued operating under the name of Kawe.

Confectioners in the Kalev factory

On 1 April, Kawe was renamed the Kalev Confectionery Factory. The name change took place due to ideological reasons; someone complained to the Minister that Kawe’s name had been formed using the initials of its former owners. This was not acceptable for a Soviet company. A naming competition was quickly organised and saw two proposals – “Punane Kompu” (“Red Sweet”), which was ideologically acceptable at the time, and “Kalev”, taken from the Estonian national epic. The name “Kalev” won by a single vote.

The new confectionery company Uus Kalev is completed at Pärnu maantee 139, Tallinn. A year later, the Karamell factory is merged with it.

The merger of confectionery companies is completed. Uus Kalev and Kalev are joined, and the company name becomes Kalev Confectionery Company. Only one confectionery manufacturer now exists in Estonia and it is located at Pärnu mnt 139. Throughout the entire Soviet period, Kalev manufactured sweets for Estonia, as well as for almost all of what is now the former Soviet Union, and it also supplied the “uncrowned rulers” of the Kremlin. Kalev’s confectionery also became renowned outside of the Soviet Union, winning awards and prizes at several international trade fairs and exhibitions.

Confectionery factory Kalev 1962

The public limited company RAS Kalev is established on the basis of Kalev Confectionery Factory.

1995 RAS Kalev is privatized and a joint-stock company is formed.

AS Kalev’s new, modern production facility is completed in Põrguvälja, Rae municipality, Harjumaa; the company leaves Tallinn. At this time, it is the largest new food industry building in Estonia since the restoration of independence.

Sweets production line in Kalev’s new factory in Põrguväljal.

AS Kalev celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Estonian confectionery industry.
On 13 June 2006, AS Kalev establishes a subsidiary, AS Kalev Chocolate Factory, which takes over the production and sales of chocolate and confectionery products from its parent company.

On 27 May 2010, AS Kalev Chocolate Factory becomes a member of the international Orkla Group, which is based in Norway.

On 9 April, the company restores its historic name, AS Kalev.

AS Kalev celebrates its 210th anniversary with a special collection of products and various events.

AS Kalev is renamed Orkla Eesti AS from 1 February. It continues to produce confectionery under the Kalev trademark.

As of 2 April, Kalev AS and Põltsamaa Felix AS form a single legal entity ‒ Orkla Eesti AS.