The new plant, set for completion in May 2014, will dry, cut, blend and store herbs and will be situated just outside Laufen in Switzerland adjacent to its current candy production facility.
The Swiss firm currently works with individual farmers and cooperatives to cut and dry the majority of its herbs. Ricola itself only dries between 2-3% of its herbs but the new facility will boost this to 10%.
The aim of the new plant is to streamline Ricola’s entire production process into one location.
Speaking to ConfectioneryNews.com at ISM 2013 in Cologne, Bernhard Christen, head of corporate brand and communications management for Ricola highlighted the importance of the ‘know-how’ the new facility will bring.
“We see ourselves as the herbal specialist for herbal candies. We have to take care of herbs and know everything about them,” Christen said.
“The point of difference is the care from beginning to end and now we can close the circle,” he said.
Ricola will gain knowledge from current farmers and companies it is working with.
Christen said that cutting herbs in a Ricola facility will enable staff to assess the quality of the dried herbs more precisely.
Production as it is, means that the company receives roughly cut, dried herbs from farmers.
“We believe in the quality there are producing is good but once dried and cut it’s harder to see. If we are closer to farmers and the drying and cutting process, we can be sure of high quality herbs,” the brand manager said.
The facility is being built using loam (a soil composed of sand, silt and clay) sourced from the Laufen valley.
It will be powered using wasted energy from the candy production facility adjacent to it along with solar panels covering its entire roof space.
“The aim is for the entire facility to be operational with reused energy and solar power,” Christen said.
“We will save energy therefore costs will be reduced, but at the same time we have a very nice image transfer to the brand. We want a natural and sustainable image,” he said.
“Green is a trend. Everyone wants to be greener and more sustainable. We take action, this is what makes us different,” he added.
The brand manager said Ricola has been dedicated to sustainable activities for years but with more and more companies communicating on actions, it felt forced to talk more about efforts and this new plant gives the opportunity to do so.