Due to recent changes in consumer behaviours, where sustainability has become a key motivator in shoppers' purchase decisions, German-based chocolate company, Alfred Ritter, has turned to Koehler Group for a packaging solution made from renewable raw materials to incorporate in its products.

In a bid to keep in step with these changes, Alfred Ritter has put its faith in secondary packaging made from paper, and turned to Koehler Group for its NexPlus solution, which is a barrier-coated paper with various capabilities.

In particular, these include barriers for odours, grease, mineral oil, water vapour, and also gases, which combine with the paper’s inherent capabilities, such as high strength properties and a natural feel, to create a strong overall concept.

According to Koehler Group, the paper delivers in terms of the primary purpose of packaging – to protect the contents and their surroundings, as well as provide excellent processing properties.

Alfred Ritter sells its products in over 100 countries worldwide and has just two production sites in Germany and Austria. Syntegon packaging machines are used at both locations. 

“We initially carried out several test runs with Koehler’s NexPlus Seal paper, without putting anything inside at first, and then we got closer and closer to an optimal solution by making small adjustments,” explains Moritz Steinle, packaging development engineer, Alfred Ritter.

“The most important aspect was the heat-sealing process, which proved essential for neat product packaging. Sealing temperature, sealing time and sealing pressure all need to be optimally coordinated in order to seal the finished packaging product neatly.

“We placed great importance on all of these criteria during the qualification process of the packaging material.”

Koehler NexPlus Seal Pure 65g is used to make Alfred Ritter’s Mini Mix pouches. For now, both Koehler’s flexible packaging paper and the classic plastic duplex can be used, which continues to provide flexibility.

According to Koehler, the main advantage of NexPlus barrier paper is that it is manufactured from sustainable raw materials, they can be fully fed back in the recycling loop, is possible for paper in many countries, and are also embraced by consumers.

Eckhard Kallies, head of flexible packaging paper, Koehler.
Eckhard Kallies, head of flexible packaging paper, Koehler.

“Barrier paper is part of our future vision. Paper has an increasing number of capabilities that in the past only plastic could offer,” says Eckhard Kallies, head of flexible packaging paper, Koehler. 

“And the difference with paper is that it has a much more sustainable life cycle. An analysis of the lifecycle of Koehler’s flexible packaging paper shows a significant reduction of CO2, compared to conventional PE-coated paper, and even plastic duplex products.”

Sustainability and recyclability were the key requirements for the paper developed by Koehler in collaboration with Alfred Ritter.

Requirements that have been successfully fulfilled, given that consumers can simply dispose of the mini pouches in paper recycling trash cans so they can be turned back into paper or cardboard,” adds Kallies.

“There is a clear trend when it comes to packaging material options. Paper scores points right across the board, and is already making an active contribution towards the objectives of a circular economy.

“With our flexible paper packaging solutions, we’re reducing the proportion of plastic in product packaging and making the world a bit more sustainable in the process.” 

The mini mix pouches have been distributed in all international markets since January, and have also been available in Germany since early March.

“Open and rapid communication was ultimately crucial for the successful implementation of this project, as was close coordination with Koehler,” concludes Steinle. 

“For Ritter, it is merely the first logical step towards more sustainable packaging. Initial field tests with primary packaging have also been carried our commercially, and have been warmly embraced by consumers.”

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