Packaging Industry Honors Ritter Sport Entrepreneur

Two days before his 70th birthday, entrepreneur Alfred Theodor Ritter was awarded the Dieter Berndt Award in Berlin by the German Packaging Institute (dvi) for his life’s work.

“I’m not talking about sustainability, I’m talking about future viability,” explained confectionery entrepreneur Alfred Theodor Ritter during the award ceremony at the German Packaging Congress. The dvi presented the award to the entrepreneur from Stuttgart, who together with his sister Marli Hoppe-Ritter owns the confectionery manufacturer Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG, with the Dieter Berndt Award on March 30th in Berlin.

The 70-year-old is known for the Ritter Sport chocolate brand, but he is also a shareholder in the Ritter Group, which manufactures vacuum tube collectors and ecological heating systems. He has already received several awards for his commitment to renewable energy. The Chernobyl accident in April 1986 had been the triggering moment for him to dedicate himself to the topic of alternative energies, the honoree explained.

When his father, Alfred Otto Ritter, died, Alfred Theodor Ritter was only 20 years old. Therefore, he initially began the company succession as a member of the advisory board, later joining the traditional family business “fully”. The studied psychologist, who was never really enthusiastic about school, but about people, the environment, and his homeland, was a visionary from an early age, reported laudator Oliver Berndt. He is the son of the late Professor Dieter Berndt, who founded the dvi. With the Dieter Berndt Award, the association wants to continue his idealistic legacy and honor important personalities from business and society for their successful, innovative, and sustainable work for packaging and the packaging industry, as well as the promotion of young talent.

At the family-owned company in southern Germany, Ritter introduced mono-material packaging made of polypropylene back in 1991. The goal back then already was to achieve full recyclability of the packaging in the long term, which does not work with material mixes. Ritter Sport was the first company to successfully participate in the eco-audit regulation in 1996. According to official information, the company’s declared goal is to switch all Ritter Sport packaging to materials made from renewable raw materials by 2025.

Paper packaging put on hold

“We need to use fewer resources,” the chocolate entrepreneur said in Berlin. Ritter Sport has already implemented a lot, he said, but the ambitious goal of introducing paper packaging had to be put on hold “because product protection wasn’t good enough.” A food producer could not afford to launch packaging without optimal protection for the product, he said. “That’s why we’re sticking with plastic packaging.” However, he said, the company was sticking to other environmentally friendly goals, such as recyclable packaging. Ritter Sport also payed attention to better, environmentally friendly, and fair production conditions when it comes to cocoa cultivation and had deliberately chosen Nicaragua as the country of cultivation. “We were the first chocolate factory to know where every cocoa bean comes from,” says Ritter.