The History Of The Alfred Ritter GmbH & KG. Company

 

 

 

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Ritter Sport

Ritter Sport logo.svg

Type

Private

Industry

Foods

Founder

Clara and Alfred E. Ritter

Headquarters

Waldenbuch, Germany

Area served

Worldwide

Key people

Alfred T. Ritter (chairman)

Net income

280 Million euros (2007)

 

Website

www.ritter-sport.com

 

Ritter Sport is a brand of chocolate from the Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG. Company which is headquartered in Waldenbuch, Germany.

 

Each 100 gram square-shaped bar is divided into 16 smaller squares, creating a four-by-four pattern. In 2013 the company introduced a new version that is divided into 9 smaller squares using a three-by-three pattern. Large bars weighing 250 grams and 16.5 gram mini bars are also available, although in fewer varieties.

 

Contents  

1 History

2 Varieties

3 Special varieties 3.1 2011 Varieties

3.2 2012 Varieties

3.3 2013 Varieties

3.4 2014 Varieties

4 Organic varieties

5 Slogans 5.1 Motto 1

5.2 Motto 2

5.3 Motto 3

5.4 Mascot

6 References

7 External links

 

 

History

In 1912, Alfred Ritter and newly wedded wife, Clara, founded a chocolate factory in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. Later it introduced its own brand of chocolate named "Alrika (Alfred Ritter Cannstatt)." When production needs required a factory expansion, the company moved to Waldenbuch in 1930, a couple of miles outside Stuttgart. The chocolate brand Ritter's Sport Schokolade produced as the square tablet known today was launched in 1932 after Clara suggested creating a chocolate bar that would fit into every sport jacket pocket without breaking.[1]

 

The company's current 3rd generation owners are Alfred T. Ritter and his sister Marli Hoppe-Ritter. In 1990 they launched project(s) "Cacaonica", which supports organic cocoa agriculture and reforestation in Nicaragua and "Ritter Solar" now the European market leader of solar thermal products and Large solar thermal systems. The Ritter company owns a CHP power plant and buys additional electricity from renewable resources. The monomaterial chocolate packaging is designed to minimize its ecological footprint.

 

On the whole, their products are neither certified organic nor certified fair trade. However, in April 2008 they launched an organic product line called "Ritter Sport Bio".

 

The Ritter museum is a "homage to the square"—to describe the Sammlung Marli Hoppe-Ritter. The collection consists of nearly 600 paintings, objects, sculptures and graphic works, a breadth of painterly and sculptural confrontation with the square form used as the design for the Ritter chocolate.

 

Ritter's factory is located in Waldenbuch, outside Stuttgart. They have shops and museums in Waldenbuch and Berlin that are open to visitors. The museum provides children with an interactive environment where they are presented with the opportunity to learn about how chocolate is made at the factory.[2]

 

Varieties

Ritter Sport Minis1.Vollmilch – Plain milk chocolate (Royal Blue Wrapper, see image)

2.Schoko-Duo – Plain milk chocolate and white chocolate (Royal Blue Wrapper with chocolate bar on outside)

3.Dunkle Vollmilch – Plain medium dark chocolate, 40% cacao (Azure Blue Wrapper)

4.Halbbitter – Plain dark chocolate, 50% cacao (Burgundy Wrapper)

5.Edelbitter – Plain dark chocolate, 71% cacao (Pink Wrapper)

6.Knusperkeks – Milk chocolate with a butter biscuit (Brown Wrapper)

7.Pfefferminz – Chocolate with peppermint filling (Caribbean Green Wrapper)

8.Joghurt – Yogurt (White Wrapper, see image)

9.Erdbeer Joghurt – Milk chocolate strawberry and yogurt filling (Light Pink Wrapper)

10.Voll-Nuss – Milk chocolate with whole hazelnuts (Brown Wrapper with Hazelnut-Pattern)

11.Dunkle Voll-Nuss – Dark chocolate with whole hazelnuts (Dark Brown Wrapper with Hazelnut-Pattern)

12.Weiße Voll-Nuss – White chocolate with whole hazelnuts (White/Cream Wrapper with Hazelnut-Pattern)

13.Knusperflakes – Milk chocolate with corn flakes (Golden Yellow Wrapper)

14.Voll Erdnuss – Milk chocolate with whole peanuts (Orange Wrapper)

15.Ganze Mandel – Milk chocolate with whole almonds (Dark Green Wrapper)

16.Marzipan – Dark chocolate with marzipan center (Red Wrapper, see image)

17.Cocos – Milk chocolate with flakes of coconut in the center (Silver Wrapper)

18.Trauben-Nuss – Milk chocolate with raisins and hazelnut pieces (Carmine Red Wrapper)

19.Rum Trauben Nuss – Milk chocolate with rum-soaked raisins and hazelnut pieces (Crimson Red Wrapper)

20.Cappuccino – Milk chocolate and cappuccino cream (Amber Wrapper)

21.Alpenmilch – Special milk chocolate with high alpine milk proportion (Sky Blue Wrapper)

22.Nugat – Milk chocolate with hazelnut-nougat center (Midnight Blue Wrapper)

23.Feinherb à la Mousse au Chocolat – dark chocolate filled with chocolate mousse (Bistre Wrapper)

24.Williams Birne Trüffel – dark chocolate filled with Poire Williams pear brandy mousse

25.Karamel Nuss – Milk Chocolate with butter caramel cream dropped hazelnuts and crispy rice (Golden yellow wrapper)

26.Haselnuss – Milk chocolate with chopped hazelnuts (Green wrapper, see image)

27.Neapolitan – Milk Chocolate with neapolitan wafers, made with a hazelnut cream filled wafers and praline. (medium dark orange wrapper)

28.Noisette – Hazelnut-flavored milk chocolate. (light green wrapper)

29.Kakao-Mousse – Whipped Cream Cocoa in Alpine Milk Chocolate. (Brown Wrapper)

30.Kakao-Keks – Dark chocolate with cookie center. (Brown Wrapper with cookie background)

31.Karamell – Milk chocolate with caramel filling. (Orange wrapper)

32.Olympia – Milk Chocolate with yoghurt, honey, and glucose. (Gold Wrapper)

33.Honig Salz Mandel – Milk chocolate with salted almonds and honey. (Orange wrapper)

 

Special varieties[]

 

From time to time, various special and limited ion flavours are released, sometimes with seasonal themes. For example, Marc de Champagne contained a truffle-like center with a champagne flavour and 'Yogurt ai Frutti di Bosco' contained a punchy sour berry center to complement the sweet milk chocolate. Three limited ion flavoured bars are released each season; the two most successful flavours are carried on to the next year's seasonal release, while the third flavour is something new.

 

2011 Varieties[]

1.Alpensahne Praline – Alpine milk chocolate with praline creme.

2.Weiss + Crisp – White chocolate with crisp.

3.Haselnusse Krokant – Milk chocolate with crispy hazelnuts.

4.Keks + Nuss – Milk chocolate with crunchy hazelnuts and cookie bits.

 

2012 Varieties[]

 

Spring

1.Bourbon Vanille – Milk chocolate with a bourbon-vanille creme filling.

2.Haselnuss Krokant – Milk chocolate with a hazelnut creme, hazelnut and almond brittle and rice cereal.

3.Kakaosplitter – Milk chocolate with a chocolate creme filling, cocoa nibs and hazelnut-almond pieces.

 

Summer

1.White Coconut – White chocolate with toasted coconut and rice flakes.

2.Wildberry Yogurt – Milk chocolate with a strawberry, blueberry and blackberry yogurt filling.

3.Amarena Kirsch – Milk chocolate with an Amarena cherry creme filling.

 

Winter

1.Coconut Macaroon – Milk chocolate with a buttery coconut cream filling with coconut flakes.

2.Caramelized Almond – Milk chocolate with caramelized almond pieces.

3.Dark Nougat Cream – Milk chocolate with a creamy dark chocolate nougat filling.

 

2013 Varieties[]

 

Spring

1.à la Crema Catalana – Milk chocolate with caramel flavoured milk creme.

2.Cookies and Cream – Milk chocolate filled with a vanilla cream filling with pieces of chocolate cookie.

3.Kakaosplitter – Milk chocolate with a chocolate creme filling, cocoa nibs and hazelnut-almond pieces.

 

Summer

1.Erdbeer Vanille-Waffel – Milk chocolate with strawberry and vanilla wafer.

2.Himbeer-Cranberry Joghurt – Milk chocolate with raspberry-cranberry yoghurt.

3.White Coconut – White chocolate with toasted coconut and rice flakes.

 

Winter

1.Caramelized Almond – Milk chocolate with caramelized almond pieces.

2.Caramel Orange – Milk chocolate with an orange caramel cream filling.

3.Coconut Macaroon – Milk chocolate with a buttery coconut cream filling with coconut flakes.

 

2014 Varieties[]

 

Spring

1.à la Crema Catalana – Milk chocolate with caramel flavoured milk creme.

2.Cookies and Cream – Milk chocolate filled with a vanilla cream filling with pieces of chocolate cookie.

3.Meringue Nut – Milk chocolate with meringue pieces and toasted hazelnut pieces.

 

Summer

1.Erdbeer Vanille-Waffel – Milk chocolate with strawberry and vanilla wafer.

2.Himbeer-Cranberry Joghurt – Milk chocolate with raspberry-cranberry yoghurt.

3.Eiscafé – Milk chocolate with a coffee and vanilla flavoured filling.

 

Organic varieties[]

1.Mandelsplitter – Milk chocolate with chopped almonds.

2.Macadamia – Milk chocolate with chopped macadamia nuts.

3.Trauben-Cashew – Milk chocolate with chopped cashew nuts and raisins.

4.Vollmilch 35% – Milk chocolate with 35% cacao.

5.Feinherb 60% – Dark chocolate with 60% cacao.

 

Slogans[]

 

Motto 1[]

German packaging: "Quadratisch. Praktisch. Gut." ("Square. Practical. Good.")

French packaging: "Carré. Pratique. Gourmand."

English packaging (North America & Australasia): "Quality. Chocolate. Squared."

English packaging (UK-Ireland): "Quality in a Square."

Italian packaging: "Quadrato. Pratico. Buono."

Danish Packaging: "Kvadratisk. Praktisk. God."

Dutch Packaging: "Vierkant. Makkelijk. Lekker."

Russian packaging: "Квадратный. Практичный. Хороший." (Translation of German) or "Квадратиш. Практиш. Гут." (Transliteration of German)

 

Motto 2[]

 

"Qualität im Quadrat."

 

Literal translation used on English language packaging: "Quality in a square." English packaging now features "Quality. Chocolate. Squared." to provide a similar description.

 

Motto 3[]

 

"Knick Knack auf Zack."

 

Literal translation in English language would be: "fold and snap to be prepared." The first two terms are the clicking noises that you are supposed to hear when breaking the chocolate bar twice in the middle - knick is from the German verb knicken (to bend something), Knack means snap/click and "auf Zack sein" means on one's toes / ready and waiting / prepared / set / arranged. This motto aired on German TV in the early 1990s.

 

Mascot[]

 

Ritter Sport is sometimes represented by "Quadrago", a banner-carrying baby dragon. This may be partly attributed to the German word "Ritter" meaning "Knight".

 

References[]

 

1."Our chocolate history". ritter-sport.

2."SchokoladenMuseum von Ritter Sport - FamilienkulTour". www.familienkultour.de. Retrieved 2016-02-18.

 

External links[]

 

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ritter Sport.

Ritter Sport's official website

Ritter Sport at WN

Ritter museum

Categories: Chocolate companies

 bars

German brands

Brand name chocolate

 

 

 

From: http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history2/13/Alfred-Ritter-GmbH-Co-KG.html

 

Company Perspectives:

 

Since 1968 people have been able to enjoy "Ritter Sport" outside of Germany. Today the chocolate squares are being marketed in more than 50 countries. The chocolate that finds admirers worldwide is made with great know-how, state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, and much care in Waldenbuch and Dettenhausen. In Italy and Austria, Switzerland and Denmark, the United States and Japan--the concept of the "other chocolate" is understood everywhere because one sees, feels, and tastes the difference. Because the brand "Ritter Sport" matches people's taste and way of life, the chocolate squares from Germany are on everyone's lips in more and more countries around the globe.

 

History of Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG

 

Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG is one of Germany's leading chocolate manufacturers. The company was number one in the German market for 100-gram-chocolate bars in 2002 with a market share of 25 percent. Alfred Ritter's square chocolate bars are well known: about 95 out of 100 Germans recognize the Ritter Sport brand. Ritter has a strong position in other European markets, including Denmark, Italy, Austria and the Netherlands. Ritter Sport chocolate bars are also available in 60 countries around the world. The grandchildren of company founder Alfred Ritter own and control the family enterprise.

 

1912 Origins

 

The Ritter company was the offspring of a sweet liaison that had nothing to do with business. On July 4, 1912, Alfred Ritter, a master  maker, and Clara Göttle, a woman with a sweet smile who owned a  store in Bad Cannstadt, a small German town near Stuttgart, got married. Shortly after, the newlyweds launched their own business, which was named Alfred Ritter Schokolade- und Zuckerwarenfabrik (Alfred Ritter chocolate and  factory). In a rented space in a house in Bad Cannstadt, where the couple took up their first residence, they established a small  production facility that was more a workshop than a Fabrik, or factory. However, the name reflected the high ambitions of the Ritters. Their business liaison turned out to be very successful. Alfred Ritter was a skillful creator of a never-ending stream of sweet novelties, which were made with the help of a handful of workers and then sold in his wife's store. Alfred oversaw the production and logistics part of the business. Clara took care of marketing and sales, as well as of the financial side.

 

Only two years after its foundation, the family business suffered its first severe crisis. When World War I broke out in the summer of 1914, Alfred Ritter was drafted into the army and the  production had to be shut down. In 1917, he was discharged from the army for health reasons and transferred to a civil job at the Stuttgarter Schokoladefabrik Eszet, a chocolate manufacturer in Stuttgart. There he learned first-hand about the industrial manufacturing of chocolate, especially so-called Kremschokolade, or "cream chocolate." Cream chocolate bars were not solid but hollow and were filled with different kinds of fillings.

 

Alfred Ritter was lucky enough to return to his business before the war ended. Soon after hostilities ceased and peace was declared, sales moved upwards again, so much so that the Ritters ran out of space. The couple decided to buy an inner-city property in Band Cannstadt, a house with a large warehouse space. After the move, the business resumed operations at the new facility. Inspired by his experience at the Stuttgart chocolate factory, Alfred Ritter launched his own chocolate brand. "Alrica," the combination of each of the first two letters of "Alfred Ritter Cannstadt," was a cream chocolate for which the master created fillings such as orange cream, raspberry cream, rum cream, and other varieties. While the cream fillings were made in-house, the chocolate mass was purchased from other manufacturers. Cream chocolate was only one of many products made at the Ritters'  factory. The company made a variety of filled chocolate and  sticks, streusel balls, pralines filled with truffle cream or brandy, and sweets made from marzipan. By now, the company's different products, which were brought to the store by hand or pulled there on a small wagon, ran into the hundreds. Orders outside of Cannstadt were first delivered by a horse-drawn carriage to the town's train station.

 

By 1920, Alfred Ritter Schokolade und Zuckerwarenfabrik employed some 40 workers, and the demand for Ritter  products kept rising. In 1923, the company opened a second store in Bad Cannstadt, which was also managed by Clara Ritter. Three years later, the Ritters bought their first delivery truck. At that time, the number of employees had already doubled from six years earlier. This was partly due to the fact that  products were still made mostly by hand. Another reason was "Alrika," Ritter's brand name cream chocolate, which became a big seller. However, the property in Bad Cannstadt had already reached its limits and, most importantly, did not allow the installation of machinery for the mass production of chocolate. Once again, Alfred and Clara Ritter started looking for a bigger site.

 

Struggles During the Depression and World War II

 

The onset of the Great Depression in the fall of 1929 was a gift and a challenge at the same time. On one hand, it provided opportunities to acquire financially struggling businesses. On the other hand, the demand for sweets dropped significantly. After considering a number of manufacturing sites that had been put up for sale at the beginning of the economic crisis, the Ritters decided to move their business to Waldenbuch, a picturesque town of 2,500 south of Stuttgart. The factory they first leased and later bought was built as a chocolate factory, and the property seemed to be spacious enough to contain future expansions. On July 1st, 1930, all production operations were moved to the new location.

 

Expanding the business at the peak of an economic depression was a bold move. To make sure that their skilled workers remained loyal to the company, they were shuttled back and forth between Bad Cannstadt and Waldenbuch by bus every day. At times, production was completely shut down to weather the crisis. Extra space on the property was utilized to grow different kinds of berries which were used to make fruit-flavored cream fillings. Not surprisingly, with fixed costs up and cash flow down, the Ritters ended up deeply in the red.

 

Despite all difficulties, Alfred and Clara Ritter kept up faith in their business. Soon after the move to Waldenbuch, they decided to start manufacturing solid chocolate bars in four varieties. Two years later, they added another chocolate product. As the story goes, Clara Ritter suggested making a solid chocolate bar that would fit in any jacket pocket without breaking. Unlike the common rectangular shape, this chocolate bar was square. To distinguish it from the conventional bars, it was called Ritter's Sportschokolade--Ritter's Sports Chocolate. The new launch was soon supported by advertising posters for display windows and by commercials in movie theaters. However, Ritter's Sportschokolade was only one among about 100 different products of its kind.

 

The suffering of the masses stirred up enormous political tension in Germany and helped launch one of the darkest chapters in the nation's history. In 1933, the leader of the National Socialist Party, Adolf Hitler, became the new German chancellor. At first, his massive, government-subsidized job creation campaign helped curb the unemployment rate. However, after a couple of years, as the Nazis gained more control over Germany's economic affairs, new economic problems began to surface. The Ritter chocolate and  factory recovered somewhat between 1933 and 1935. In 1935, the German government started cutting back on cocoa imports. Ritter was not able to buy enough cocoa and other raw material and began to launch  products made from less restricted materials, such as jelly beans, fruit gum products, and  sticks.

 

After World War II began in September 1939, it became increasingly difficult to maintain production. Many male workers were drafted into the army and raw materials became even more scarce. In 1940, production operations were shut down in Waldenbuch. Until the end of the war, the premises of the Alfred Ritter chocolate and  factory were used by other businesses. For a limited time, electric appliances manufacturer AEG turned the Ritters' factory into a site for making replacement parts for certain weapons. Later, the company's premises were employed as a warehouse. Even immediately after the war ended in 1945, the chocolate factory was used by another manufacturer to make toothpaste.

 

A New Start in the Postwar Era

 

In 1946, the Ritter enterprise resumed operations. The company started out with six people making soft  products and "nutrition sticks," bars made from soy flour and dry bread crumbs, which were made primarily for schoolchildren's meals. The war had left the chocolate factory, including its machinery, untouched. The main problem during the years immediately following World War II was the same as before the war: scarce raw materials. Sugar was rationed and cocoa was simply not available. Bartering was common between businesses. Some wholesalers who were Ritter's customers exchanged sugar for finished products. Customers had to bring their own packaging materials. Then, in 1947, Ritter's warehouse burned down.

 

The introduction of a new currency--the Deutsche Mark--in the three western sectors of Germany marked a new beginning for the country, its people, and the economy. Beginning in 1950, cocoa was available again in West Germany without any limitations. Ritter immediately resumed the manufacture of Ritter Sport chocolate and soon offered the company's entire prewar product range.

 

In April 1952, company cofounder Alfred Ritter died at age 66. He was succeeded by his only son, Alfred Otto Ritter, who had returned to Waldenbuch wounded immediately after the war. However, he was soon afterwards taken prisoner by the French Allied Forces and not released until 1947. The 37-year-old had joined the family business in 1937, after he had gained some practical experience as an apprentice at three different and chocolate manufacturing companies. His elderly mother Clara remained actively involved in the business until she died in March 1959 at age 82.

 

Chocolate became increasingly more popular in postwar West Germany. American soldiers who gave out chocolate bars to German civilians after the war contributed to this trend. Rising living standards in the post-reconstruction years fueled the continuously growing demand, turning chocolate from a luxury item to a product that was widely enjoyed. While German chocolate manufacturers, including Ritter, enjoyed rising sales, another development began changing the industry. Until 1954, a 100-gram chocolate bar had cost at least DM1.00. In the summer of that year, the German chocolate maker Tobler undercut this unofficial price barrier. The move not only turned out to be a mistake for Tobler--the company was taken over by a competitor--but initiated a plunge in prices, creating financial difficulties for many smaller manufacturers, and a resulting wave of consolidation.

 

To stay competitive, Alfred Otto Ritter decided to radically cut down the number of products the company made and to invest heavily in advertising as well as in a cutting-edge production infrastructure. Beginning in the 1950s, more and more products were discontinued. By 1955, the company stopped making Christmas-related products and by the end of the decade had ceased the production of Easter . At the same time, Ritter focused its advertising on its chocolate, often with unconventional methods. In the 1950s, the company painted its advertising on the wings of a large model airplane and flew it within "reading distance" over people's heads. When television was still in its infancy, the company created a cartoon to advertise Ritter Sport chocolate. Meanwhile, the prewar machinery in Waldenbuch was replaced by state-of-the-art equipment, resulting in lower cost. While production and storage capacity was greatly enlarged, the number of employees stayed the same. In addition, beginning in the mid-1960s, the company started to expand its distribution network. Until then, almost all of Ritter's customers were located in southwest Germany, including the Frankfurt am Main area.

 

In the late 1960s, the company started a fruitful cooperation with the DEWE advertising agency which lasted many decades and greatly contributed to the company's growing success. After conducting a detailed study of the market, DEWE suggested that Ritter switch to "mono-marketing" and focus solely on the production of square chocolate bars. They got the green light from Alfred Otto Ritter and created a campaign that transformed Ritter Sport from a chocolate product into a brand name. In 1969, the company stopped making rectangular chocolate bars and two years later ceased the production of pralines. At the same time, new fillings were created for Ritter Sport chocolate. The major national breakthrough came with the launch of a Ritter Sport bar with a yogurt filling. Supported by a massive national advertising campaign, the new creation and its marketing, which focused on feeling young and being active, tapped a huge market at a time when leisure, sports, and travel were starting to play an increasing role in people's lives. The compact chocolate squares with the healthy filling were presented as a nutritious food that helped people stay fit.

 

The strategy was a huge success and catapulted Ritter Sport into the first league among German chocolate makers. By the mid-1960s, Ritter ranked among the 15 leading German 100-gram chocolate bar manufacturers with a market share of roughly 5 percent. By 1970, that percentage had already doubled. In 1960, Ritter employed 190 people. Ten years later the number had grown to 260. During the same time period, the company's sales almost tripled, reaching DM73 million in 1970.

 

Reaching for the Top and Out to the World

 

In 1970, the company's TV commercials reached consumers in all of West Germany for the first time. The Ritter Sport brand was connected with a catchy slogan: "Square. Practical. Good." Two years later, the company's sales passed the DM100 million mark and Ritter's market share among German chocolate bar makers kept growing. In 1974, the company made another bold move when it introduced a new packaging design. Each of the different variations of the square chocolate bars was wrapped in its own bright color. While other chocolate bars were traditionally packaged in darker colors, such as dark red and brown or royal blue, Ritter Sport bars stood out on the shelves with their bright yellow, orange, red, green, and sky-blue packaging. Alfred Otto Ritter, however, was not able to witness the success of his decision. In late October 1974, he died from a sudden heart attack.

 

Alfred Otto Ritter's wife Marta took up the challenge and assumed responsibility for the family business. At the same time, a three-person advisory board was formed with chairperson Marta Ritter and two close friends of the family who had been loyal advisors to the company on business matters over the years. The advisory board chose three top managers as directors who took care of the day-to-day business affairs. In 1978, the third generation of the Ritter family--daughter Marta-Luise and son Alfred Theodor Ritter--joined the advisory board that guided and controlled the company's management. Five years later, Alfred Theodor Ritter became the board's new chairperson. From then on, the two took turns in heading the board every five years.

 

Meanwhile, the company introduced another novelty in the chocolate industry in 1974. Previously, chocolate bars had been wrapped in cellophane or a thin aluminum foil, followed by a second layer of paper or carton. In the late 1960s, Ritter's engineers were challenged to develop a new packaging solution for chocolate containing whole nuts, which could not be pressed into an exact form, since some nuts were bigger than others and protruded from the chocolate. Ritter started experimenting with plastic wrappings which at that time were used for packaging  or chocolate-covered  bars. However, a consumer survey conducted in 1972 revealed that their new packaging was hard to open. After some more experimenting, the company came up with a solution. The seam of the package was moved from the center of the package to the location where the first section of chocolate broke off. It was then sealed closed with a thin layer of special glue that was easy to open. The "Knick-Pack" was introduced in 1976 and became an instant hit. It was not only easy to open but also to close again. Since then, all Ritter Sport chocolate varieties have been packaged in the "Knick-Pack."

 

In the 1980s, the domestic demand for chocolate began to stagnate. The industry panicked and prices plunged. Except for times when cocoa prices shot through the roof, this trend has continued into the new century. Competition became tougher and tougher. A number of competitors, among them the international chocolate giant Nestlé, tried to launch square chocolate bars. However, Ritter defended its turf fiercely. The company was able to convince courts that consumers identified the square form with the Ritter Sport brand.

 

To meet the challenge of the stagnating domestic chocolate market, the company followed three strategies. First, it invested in strong advertising campaigns in both good times and bad. After a short interruption in the late 1980s, when the attempt to re-launch Ritter Sport in a new "high lifestyle" campaign was not accepted by consumers, the company returned to its roots, emphasizing high quality and its familiar slogan "Square. Practical. Good." Second, the company looked to other countries for further growth. Until 1967, Ritter Sport chocolate was sold almost exclusively in Germany. By 1987, exports accounted for over 9 percent of the company's sales. The chocolate squares were shipped as far as Australia, South Africa, Chile, Japan, Canada, and the United States. Third, Ritter tried to reverse the downward price spiral by raising prices. An initial attempt at this had failed in 1985, a year when cocoa prices climbed extremely high. When the company tried to compensate for the higher cost by increasing prices, sales dropped significantly. German consumers, known to be very sensitive to chocolate price changes, switched to cheaper brands. In the mid-1990s, prices for chocolate bars hit bottom again in Germany. They dropped so low that many manufacturers lowered the cocoa content and used lower quality ingredients in order to cover their costs. When cocoa prices rose significantly again in 2000, Ritter decided to do the opposite. The company's second attempt to raise prices was more successful than the first one. The price raises were accompanied by an improvement in product quality. A new advertising campaign focused on the product and its higher quality, explaining the new move to consumers. Sales dropped but not significantly. The introduction of the new Euro currency in Germany might have helped, too. Suddenly, a bar of chocolate that was sold for one German Mark cost "only" about 50 cents.

 

By 2000, there were fewer than 200 chocolate manufacturers in Germany and, with the exception of Ritter Sport, the industry giants dominated the market. During the 1980s and 1990s, the company had made increasing gains against its major competitor in the market for 100-gram chocolate bars. The leading brand, Milka, had a market share of 29 percent in the mid-1990s. Ritter Sport was number two with about 18 percent but number one in chocolate bar sales at gas stations. In a difficult market, the company managed to stay at the top. By 2002, Ritter Sport's market share in the 100-gram segment had climbed to over 24 percent.

 

Looking ahead, Ritter Sport aimed at winning over younger people to lower the average age of the typical Ritter Sport consumer, who was 44 years of age in 2002. In 2003, the company was planning to introduce its new "Active-Range," which was targeted at young people. Another priority was the company's expansion into Eastern Europe, especially its joint venture with the Russian chocolate maker Odintsovo Confectionary Factory, where Ritter was planning to put out about 10,000 tons of Ritter Sport chocolate annually, beginning in fall 2003. Finally, the company abandoned the "mono-marketing" strategy and focused more on new product development, including a range of artificially sweetened chocolate bars, a number of bars with seasonal fillings (fruity for the white "summer chocolate" range and truffle fillings for the winter months), and a line of filled chocolate bars targeted at women. In addition, the company introduced its classic range in a broad variety of sizes--from mini to extra large. One possibility for the future was the introduction of chocolate made with organically grown cocoa from Nicaragua, where the company helped fund an organic farming project.

 

When Alfred Theodor Ritter joined the family business in the mid-1980s, a who's who of the international chocolate industry tried to persuade the Ritters to sell the business. Even the consultants they had hired to help the struggling company advised them to sell. They refused. Eighteen years later, the founder's grandson, at 49, imagined leading the company for at least another decade.

 

Principal Subsidiaries: Ritter Sport Schokolade Ges. m.b.H. (Austria); Ritter Sport Schokolade 000 (Russia).

 

Principal Competitors: Kraft Jacobs Suchard; Nestlé Deutschland AG; Cadbury; Lindt & Sprüngli; Hershey Foods Corporation; Ferrero OHG mbH; Stollwerck AG.

 

Chronology

•Key Dates:

•1912: Alfred and Clara Ritter start a family business.

•1919: Brand name cream chocolate Alrika is launched.

•1930: The Ritters move their business from Cannstadt to Waldenbuch.

•1932: Ritter's Sport Chocolate is introduced.

•1940: The company is closed down until the end of World War II.

•1946: Alfred Ritter Schokoladefabrik resumes operations.

•1952: Alfred Otto Ritter takes over responsibility for the family business.

•1960: Alfred Otto Ritter decides to focus solely on Ritter Sport chocolate bars.

•1970: A TV advertising campaign launches Ritter Sport as a leading brand.

•1974: Marta Ritter takes over responsibility for the family business.

•1976: "Knick-Pack" packaging is introduced.

•1978: A third generation of the Ritter family joins the company's advisory board.

•2000: Ritter's "higher prices for higher quality" campaign is launched.

•2002: Ritter Sport is the market leader in the 100-gram chocolate bar segment.

 

Additional Details

•Private Company

•Incorporated: 1912 as Alfred Ritter Schokolade- und Zuckerwarenfabrik

•Employees: 770

•Sales: EUR 247 million ($259 million) (2002)

•NAIC: 311320 Chocolate and Confectionery Manufacturing from Cacao Beans

 

Further Reference

•Bender, Ralf, "Jetzt zählen wieder die inneren Werte," Lebensmittel Zeitung, September 22, 2000, p. 97.

•Chwallek, Andreas, "Ritter forciert kräftig das Wachstum der Märkte," Lebensmittel Zeitung, January 17, 2003, p. 18.

•------, "Ritter sieht Strategie voll bestätigt," Lebensmittel Zeitung, December 7, 2001, p. 16.

•------, "Ritter und Nestle kooperieren," Lebensmittel Zeitung, June 8, 2001, p. 14.

•------, "Ritter zeigt eine gute Performance," Lebensmittel Zeitung, January 24, 2003, p. 56.

•"Grüner Ritter in vielen Satteln," Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 27, 1997.

•Heeg, Thiemo, "Im Porträt: Alfred Ritter," Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, August 11, 2002, p. 30.

•Heimig, Dieter, "Mit der Mehrwert-Strategie konnte Ritter Sport Handel und Verbraucher gleichermassen überzeugen," Lebensmittel Zeitung, June 20, 2003, p. 80.

•Neidhart, Thilo, "Ritter belebt die Quadratur der Schokolade," HORIZONT, April 1, 1994, p. 12.

•"Quadrat auf Wanderschaft," Werben und Verkaufen, February 15, 2002, p. 40.

•"Ritter Sport wächst kräftig im Ausland," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 4, 2003, p. 22.

•Schmidt-Auerbach, Markus, "Ritter Sport erzielt bessere Erträge," Lebensmittel Zeitung, January 26, 2001, p. 20.

•75 Jahre Ritter, Heidelberg, Germany: Verlag das Wunderhorn GmbH, 1987, 187 p.

 

 

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