German confectioner Ritter Sport has said that its biggest challenge this year is fitting all product information onto labels amid escalating pressure from the European Commission to increase text sizes.
Speaking to ConfectioneryNews.com, company public relations manager Petra Fix talked about the pressures from labeling regulations, breaking into new markets and the success of the company’s latest launch.
“What’s difficult for us is the letter size on packaging,” she said.
Fitting the company’s message on to the packaging as well as Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) in several languages had become a challenge, she said.
Ritter is considering producing different packaging for each of its export countries as the European Commission discusses larger font sizes on product labels.
Fix said this would drive up material costs for firm, which it would not be able to put on the end price for consumers.
Despite this pressure, Fix said that Ritter had enjoyed success from a product re-launch earlier this year.
Schokowürfel initially hit store shelves in 2006, but the product underwent a formulation and packaging overhaul and was re-launched in January this year.
The packaging is now in a cube format, whereas the old version had been in a square box.
There are also two new flavors: a classic nougat and yoghurt-based version.
“The sales have been extraordinary. It was better than we expected,” said Fix.
She said that Germany was the main market for the product, although it is also being exported to Russia and Austria. The company is also currently testing Schokowürfel in the UK and Italy.
Ritter exports to around 90 countries from its only production site in Stuttgart, Germany, but works mainly in European surroundings.
Its primary markets are Germany, Denmark, Austria and Italy, although Russia and the US are growing in importance, according to Fix.
She added that any extension of the firm’s manufacturing footprint outside Germany was unlikely.
“With the growth rate we are planning, we still have more capacity left. But if we reach a certain growth we have to rethink,” she said.
France: A difficult market for German chocolate
According to Fix, Ritter products are prominent on German supermarket shelves, but offerings in foreign markets are mainly through convenience channels.
For example, the firm has found penetration of French supermarkets tough despite the countries close proximity to Germany, with sales mainly limited to gas stations.
“The French market is a very difficult market for German chocolate,” said Fix.
The French have many of their own chocolate brands and prefer to trade between themselves, she said. Kraft’s Milka and Lindt chocolate dominate the market, she added, leaving little room for others.
However, Ritter products are also one of the few confections found in sports stores, through a supply deal with Decathlon, through which the company has enjoyed some success.
Fix added that the company was unperturbed by regulators clamping down on chocolate marketed as a healthy products.
“We are not worried. Everyone knows it has sugar and fat in there,” she said, adding that the calories were not hidden as they were in many beverage products.