Due to go into production proper at the beginning of 2004, the added impetus from the Ritter brand should help Odintsovo Confectionery in its aim to try and penetrate international financial markets. The Russian company says it intends to either place stocks or attract investments from private foreign funds within the next two years.
"Currently we are testing the two production lines and so they should go into full production any time now," said Thomas Segeer, spokesman for Alfred Ritter. "The lines will be used by our partner for their products and by us for manufacturing our square chocolate bars sold under the Ritter Sport brand name. The bars will also have the same quality as the chocolate bars manufactured in Germany because the production lines are identical."
Segeer added that the Russian market for confectionery has continued to show strong signs of growth in recent years. The company will be targeting the domestic market, with the big cities being the primary focus. Eventually it expects to manufacture around 10,000 tons of chocolate a year.
Although Russian consumption of chocolate is only on a par with smaller countries in western Europe, the market is thought to have great potential because of its growing economy and increasing affluence in much of the population.
In 2001 total consumption of chocolate was 500,000 tons. On top of that, average per capita consumption rose from 2.2kg in 2001 to 3.1kg in 2002.