The chocolate manufacturer Ritter Sport said it grew slightly in 2023 despite difficult conditions. “2023 was a turbulent year,” said managing director Andreas Ronken of the German Press Agency. Nevertheless, the company from Waldenbuch (Böblingen district) will record slight sales growth at the end of the year, albeit somewhat less strongly than in the previous year. In 2022, Ritter Sport's sales increased by seven percent to 538 million euros.
"I don't jump for joy either"
Cocoa and sugar prices are at a very high level and are the biggest cost drivers within the company. Ronken did not want to comment in detail on the result. At the end of the year, the family business will be in the black. "The result doesn't give me a headache, but I don't jump for joy either," said Ronken.
2024 will not be a quiet year either, said the managing director, with a view to cocoa and sugar prices, which have not yet shown any signs of easing. He is also concerned about climate change, as it will have a huge impact on agriculture. “Whether we want it or not,” said Ronken. “We will have to deal with the fact that nature is no longer what it used to be and there will be more freak weather conditions.” For example, in the future we will have to pay more attention to the availability of cocoa or other ingredients.
Sales in Russia fell slightly
The largest sales market after Germany will continue to be Russia in 2023, but sales there will decline slightly. “We continue to try to find alternatives in international business and thereby reduce the importance of the Russian market for our business and supply chain,” said Ronken. The China business, which started during the corona pandemic, is picking up a bit, although still on a “low simmer”. Otherwise, the chocolate manufacturer has great ambitions in the USA, but the ground still needs to be prepared for this.
After Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine began in February 2022, Ritter Sport came under heavy criticism for continuing to deliver chocolate to Russia. The company justified the step, among other things, with effects on production, which would ultimately also affect cocoa farmers in West Africa, Central and South America. The company decided to stop investing in the Russian market, stop advertising and donate profits from Russia to humanitarian aid organizations.
After 1.5 million euros in the last financial year, the profit and thus the donation this financial year will be 940,000 euros according to current calculations, said Ronken.