Ritter Sport is swapping out its standard plastic wrappers for paper-based packaging in a first-time trial.
The chocolate company is reintroducing its limited-edition Chocolate & Weed to the Austrian market, now available in paper wrappers for as long as stocks last.
“The primary objective is to test paper-based packaging under practical conditions in retail stores,” Petra Fix, global sustainability communications at Alfred Ritter, tells PackagingInsights.
“We hope to gain insights into how paper packaging behaves, for example, during automatic packaging, transport and finally on the shelf. We want to find out whether the material proves itself on the typical route from production to the end consumer.”
Ritter Sport reportedly chose a limited edition chocolate variety to “inspire chocolate fans in Austria” with both innovative packaging and its milk chocolate with roasted hemp seed filling variety.
Chocolate needs strong paper
The trial builds on previous Ritter Sport paper prototypes tested in Germany earlier this year. The initial consumer feedback was “exceedingly positive” and demonstrated “a clear awareness of the issue of sustainable packaging,” says Fix.
The main challenge lies in finding a material that meets Ritter Sport’s high sustainability, protection and product safety standards.
“Chocolate naturally contains a relatively large amount of fat from the cocoa butter. Primary packaging must therefore contain a high fat content and protect the chocolate against external environmental influences,” Fix explains.
Notably, the new Austrian test papers use a grammage of 90 g/m2, which is 15 g/m2 stronger than the initial prototype.
The packaging also states it is “wrapped in paper” prominently on the front-of-pack. This taps into Innova Market Insights’ top packaging trend for 2020: “The Language Environmental Sustainability.”
FMCG brands are increasingly acknowledging the environmental attributes of packaging as a key selling point for consumer packaged goods.
Economically and environmentally sustainable
Ritter Sport’s standard chocolate packaging is made from polypropylene (PP), making it fully recyclable. As a single-material packaging, it is also “extremely economical” in terms of material consumption, says the company
“Nevertheless, we are working intensively on [creating] packaging based on renewable, recyclable raw materials, which at the same time meet high standards for product protection and safety,” Fix elaborates.
Importantly, Ritter Sport is using the Chocolate & Weed trial to distance itself from using fossil fuels, the main component in PP.
The company notes that plastic recycling is not as well organized as paper recycling. Moreover, simple, functioning recycling infrastructures already exist worldwide.
The courage to innovate is a long-standing tradition with Ritter Sport, says Fix, citing the invention of the chocolate square by Clara Ritter nearly a century ago and its signature color-coordinated chocolate wrappings.
“Today’s tests with paper-based packaging is also an example of our attempt to operate in harmony with humans and nature.”
by Anni Schleicher
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