Nutfruit Magazine

The official voice of the INC

20 July, 2020 A Chat with the Industry

Malte Dammann, Chief Demand Officer for Ritter Sport

Malte Dammann, Chief Demand Officer for Ritter Sport

"I am convinced a trusted brand becomes in these days an even more important role in people’s lives."

Ritter Sport is a family-owned German chocolate and confectionery company that can trace their roots back to 1912. Today with 1600 employees and distribution in over 100 countries, Ritter Sport has grown to be an international chocolate company. Ritter Sport’s products use a wide range of nuts and dried fruit and they consistently offer consumers high-quality products. Malte Dammann is the Chief Demand Officer for Ritter Sport and has overseen the marketing and sales teams since January 2019. Although he has only recently joined the Ritter Sport team, Malte has over 20 years of experience in the beverage and food industry!

Recently, you gave a speech on the importance of brand trust; how important is brand trust right now, especially considering the global and economic crisis caused by COVID-19?
I am convinced a trusted brand becomes in these days an even more important role in people’s lives. In times of instability when it seems everything you do or what you have learned requires revision, a trusted and consistent brand becomes an anchor.

With the ever-evolving food industry and topics like sustainability becoming more and more relevant, what has Ritter Sport done to ensure they maintain brand trust?
The most important feature for chocolate is taste. For this good taste, you need the best quality in raw materials, and on this high quality, we have always put an intense focus on. We are sourcing already since 2018 only 100% certified sustainable cocoa. Besides the high quality raw materials, we are simplifying our chocolate recipes now over years with the goal to use only what’s mandatory to make simply good chocolate. The best example is our Cocoa class range, where you only find 3 or maximum 4 ingredients: cocoa mass, coco butter, sugar and also milk. This continuous effort in product, innovation and brand is what our customers appreciate and why they trust us.

With certainty, regarding COVID-19, there will be changes to the way people do business in the food industry. From your perspective, what trends can you see taking shape around the world in the food industry and the confectionery industry?
Besides food trends on a higher awareness of food quality and nutrition I assume, the shopping behavior of all of us will change. We all have seen that delivery services just exploded as well as online shopping even for food. This is a huge challenge for confectionery and impulse products, as you might not have those on your shopping list. Here comes the trusted and well-known brand into the game again, one with a consistent message and a trusted and believed story behind. We are working on new distribution channels and also intensifying our brand communication towards more background on who we are, what drives us and what we do. We want everybody to know, that we are a family owned, sustainable chocolate brand made by chocolate enthusiasts.

What are some of the challenges and opportunities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our key customers struggled for a short period with their internal supply chain, which caused some out of stock situation in some stores. Focusing on our partnership customers, we managed to solve these disruptions and improved our standing as a reliable supplier during the crisis. We used the COVID 19 period to create new products via online “Sprints” to exploit the growing trend of in-home sharing and e-gaming. These products are now part of our innovation pipeline.

Ritter Sport uses a wide variety of nuts and dried fruits in their products; do you personally see any changes in the demand or supply of nuts and dried fruits in the confectionery industry as the global economy recovers?
As so many people had to stay at home, we all saw an increase in the awareness of food, preparing meals and in enjoyment. I guess food quality and nutrition will get an even more important role in the future. Nuts and dried fruits will most likely play a role in this movement and might as well increase the demand for them. I am glad we have long-term supplier partnerships and we can offer our customers already today a wide range of those products.

How can nuts and dried fruits enhance a chocolate product, and why are they so commonly used together?
We have always been focusing in our chocolate bars in using clear ingredients, meaning whole nuts rather than crunched, whole raisins, fine marzipan rather than a marzipan crème. These days consumers like to see what they get. They look for clear and clean products, and a consistent and reliable story that’s going with it, both of them we can offer. Nevertheless, we are always innovating new sorts, sizes and tastes. Nuts and dried fruits just perfectly fit with chocolate and offer the chocolate connoisseurs over and over again new sensory adventures.

Lastly, where do you see Ritter Sport in 10 years from now?
At Ritter Sport we are focusing on “Doing the right thing to create really good chocolate”. Simple as this sentence, I see the Brand in 10 years from now as the favorite Chocolate Brand of existing and new consumers with the right balance of Colorful joy and Goodness and a role model for “Doing the right thing”.
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