GERMANY: Europe’s leading CHOCOLATE producer!

Updated: Oct 11, 2020


When we arrived in Germany this time, (and due to improved technology since we were here in 2008-2012) I took videos of a couple Chocolatiers in Amberg and in Nuremburg and sent them to my friend in San Antonio, which was prior to C-19. Her response was that she couldn't wait to come visit so she could explore every one of them! Yes, she knows there are more than 20,000 castles, gorgeous cathedrals, amazing food, about 1,300 breweries producing over 5,000 brands of beer, the alps, medieval towns to explore, and gorgeous countrysides..........but a girl wants what a girl wants! Her priority is going to be CHOCOLATE when she is able to travel here!


She's originally from the Chicago area and you can bet she kept See's, Fannie May's and all those gourmet chocolate stores in business!


Germany is the biggest chocolate producer in the European Union, with 1.3 million tons produced in 2017. Following behind were Italy and France. In Germany, Chocolate is spelled Schokolade.


The production value of chocolate products was estimated at around €5.4 billion in 2017. Large multinational chocolate manufacturers such as Ferrero, Mars and Mondelez all have their manufacturing facilities in Germany and dominate the market. In total, there are over 230 German chocolate producers! A large share of the chocolate production is exported, which makes Germany the world’s largest exporter of chocolate products. Germany is known for making some of the best chocolates in the world.


The chart below shows the volume of chocolate products manufactured in Germany by group in 1,000 tons from 2009-2019. Clearly filled bars far-outweigh everything else, and it's a shame white chocolate (one of MY personal favorites) does so poorly compared to all the others!

(Source: Statista.com)



Chocolate bars are especially popular in Germany. Although Germany has MANY brands of chocolate that we typically only see at Costco, World Market, or other International stores, German and American consumers favor Milka, and the immediately recognizable Ritter-Sport and Lindt. (Sources: cbi.eu/market-information and Statista.com)


In case you you are really into statistics and aren't familiar with the term "Pralines", it means something totally different in Germany than in New Orleans! In Germany, a Praline is what we might call a truffle (which BTW, should not ever be confused with mushrooms which are also spelled "truffle")


Since those brands are equally as recognizable by Americans, let’s explore some of them. I doubt many people know that Ghirardelli (a favorite in the states) is a subsidiary of Lindt!

MILKA

A Swiss brand of chocolate confection which originated in Switzerland in 1901 and has been manufactured internationally by the US confectionery company Mondelēz International (formerly known as Kraft Foods) since 1990. For more than 100 years, Milka has been primarily produced in Lörrach, Germany. The Milka script logo and its lilac packaging was trademarked in the 60’s and has become Germany’s number one chocolate.


Side note: Other chocolates that are part of the Mondelez family include Cadbury and Toblerone, but those are not produced in Germany.

RITTER SPORT

With more than 30 varieties, it is a brand of chocolate bar from the family-owned Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG, which has its headquarters in Waldenbuch, Germany.

In 1912 Alfred and Clara Ritter founded a chocolate factory in Stuttgart; By 1926 the company had 80 employees. When production needs required a factory expansion in 1930, the company moved to Waldenbuch, a site a couple of miles outside Stuttgart. The chocolate brand known today, Ritter Sport Schokolade, was launched in 1932 after Clara suggested creating a chocolate bar that would fit into any sport jacket pocket without breaking but weighed the same as a normal bar.


The Second World War halted production and Ritter chocolates disappeared until the 1950s, when chocolate rationing was ended in West Germany. The end of chocolate rationing did not mark the end of troubles for the firm since in 1952 the company's founder, Albert Ritter, died. His son, Alfred Otto Ritter, took over and focused the company on the chocolate square.


In 1966 Clara Ritter also died and the company was left solely in the hands of Alfred Otto. He dispensed with many other product lines in order to push the square bar.*


According to the Ritter Sport website, The Colorful ChocoWorld site at Gendarmenmarkt makes Berlin the capital of chocolate! Even as you enter there's an irresistibly tempting aroma of chocolate. The three floors and almost 10,000 sf of space gives you a chance to treat yourself to everything you fancy, try your hand at being creative and find out all about chocolate.



LINDT


A Swiss chocolatier and confectionery company founded in 1845 and known for its chocolate truffles and chocolate bars, among other sweets.


In 1994, Lindt acquired the Austrian chocolatier Hofbauer Österreich, and 1997 and 1998, respectively, the company acquired the Italian chocolatier Caffarel and the American chocolatier Ghirardelli; Since then, Lindt has expanded the once-regional Ghirardelli to the international market.


On 14 July 2014, Lindt bought Russell Stover Candies, maker of Whitman's Chocolate, for about $1 billion, the company's largest acquisition to date.


Although Lindt is a favorite in Germany, and one of it’s 12 production plants is in Aachen, Germany, I wouldn’t exactly call it a German Chocolate Company considering they have 12 factories scattered around the world: Switzerland; Germany; France; Italy; Austria; and New Hampshire, in the United States. The Ghirardelli's factory is located in San Leandro, California, in the United States and there are four more U.S. based factories for the Russell Stover brand.

HOWEVER, what IS produced in Germany is the Lindt Easter Bunny, a huge money-maker for Lindt!


They are the symbol of Easter in Switzerland, but the golden Lindt bunnies aren’t Swiss. How can those cute little gold-wrapped bunnies not be Swiss? They are made by Lindt, one of the oldest and most famous chocolate makers in Switzerland, but they are made by Lindt in Germany!



* Germany's Ritter Sport wins square chocolate battle against Milka! For decades, Ritter Sport has marketed its chocolate bars on their unique, square shape. So, when rival brand Milka challenged its German monopoly on square chocolate, the battle lines were drawn. Milka achieved an initial victory in 2016 by getting the trademark deleted but that ruling was overturned. Finally, the case ended up in the Federal Court of Justice, where judges have now thrown out Milka's complaint and ruled in favor of Ritter Sport.

Normally a brand cannot claim protection in Germany if its shape gives the product "an essential value". But the judges in this case said Ritter Sport was different. Consumers considered the square nature of the chocolate bar as an indication of both where the chocolate came from and its quality, they concluded. Their ruling means that Ritter Sport can remain the only top-brand square chocolate bar on the shelves in German shops.

Germany's Ritter Sport wins square chocolate battle against Milka! The judge's ruling means that Ritter Sport can remain the only top-brand square chocolate bar on the shelves in German shops.


RIESEN

It might not be on a top seller in Germany, but its’ brands are popular in the U.S. it is produced in Germany and is worthy of inclusion! Riesen (German for Giants) is a chocolate-flavored caramel produced and distributed by August Storck KG, which also produces Werther's Original. In the US, the candy is individually wrapped and sold in medium, large, and club-sized bags. In the UK, the candies come loose in packs of 5. It consists of bite-sized pieces of chewy chocolate caramel covered in dark chocolate.


While small corner shops in Germany still sold loose candy out of big jars in the 30’s, Storck introduced the first wrapped and branded caramel – the Storck 1 Pfennig Riesen (what we would have called “penny candy”! It quickly became a popular candy due to its appealing caramel taste and chewiness. It became a “2 pfenning candy” in the 1940s.

In the 80’s the chocolate-caramel candy was covered in dark chocolate and became the "Chocolate Riesen." The Storck Chocolate Riesen became available in bags of individually wrapped pieces. The brand expanded internationally in 1990 and expanded into the U.S.

Learn about the interesting history of Chocolate at this Ritter Sport link!

Now for a brand that is not as readily available in the states and is certainly not as well-known as those above. This is a German-produced chocolate that is worth looking for. Before we can talk about the chocolate, we need to know what Asbach Uralt is!

Asbach, a native from Cologne, founded a company in 1892 to distribute domestic "Rüdesheim Cognac" which soon became popular. After World War I, when the Treaty of Versailles decreed that the word Cognac could only be used for French products, Hugo Asbach coined the term Weinbrand for German brandy, which in 1923 became an official classification according to German wine law. Asbach Uralt is one of the best-known German brandy trademarks.


I am told that many restaurants thank guests by offering them a shot of this after their meal (though I haven't noticed that in the state of Bavaria!), much like many other European nations gift patrons after they pay their bill with taste of a beverage that represents their heritage (Always Ouzo in Greece!!)


As a tall drink, it is often mixed with Cola products; especially in traditional pubs in the Berlin area.


Since 1924, Asbach also distributed brandy filled pralines (a truffle type of specialty) to address new customer demographics, which brings us to ……

ASBACH URALT BRANDY ENROBED IN GERMAN CHOCOLATE!!

The creamy, rich chocolate is combined with Asbach Uralt brandy!

Where can you get it? In the US and Germany, you can probably find Asbach Uralt wherever you buy alcoholic beverages. As for the brandy-filled German chocolates, I’m guessing they are in many of the German Schokolade retail stores; in the states I’ve only seen them at World Market and online retail shops. I know they are available at Amazon (.de and .com) and many German or International food specialty stores. If you do a search, you will find many sources.


While the above discussion is mostly about the Germany-produced chocolate sold internationally, we need to remember that when you want REALLY incredible chocolate, all those local chocolatiers in any medium-large size city will have incredible variations that will keep you coming back!

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” Linda Grayson


FOR THE RECORD: GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE IS NOT A GERMAN THING! It originated in Texas!!