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Andermatt Swiss Alps

Ricola – sweet success for a Swiss family firm

We all know that the alpine landscape around Andermatt is exceptionally good for wellbeing. The combination of the pure air, the fresh water, the rich summer pastures and the herbs and flowers that grow on them – life here offers an antidote to the stressful, polluted, noisy world beyond.

Swiss landscape image courtesy of Ricola

One quintessentially Swiss company has built its remarkable success on distilling the essence of this mountain goodness into confectionary form.

Ricola, whose herbal sweets and pastilles are sold in more than 50 countries, was founded in 1930 by Emil Wilhelm Richterich, in the Swiss town of Laufen, just outside of Basel. Their products may look and taste as delicious as ordinary sweets. In fact, the company’s hundreds of secret recipes (only a handful of its 400 employees are privy to the exact methods and ingredients) include a blend of 13 herbs, all of which have been used to increase health and wellbeing throughout the centuries. Ricola lead the way, too, in producing sugar-free sweets, helping people to improve their dental health.

Pastures of Swiss herbs Ricola cultivation of herbs - image courtesy of Ricola

The roll-call of Ricola’s herbal extracts conjures up images of a lush pasture: cowslip, mallow, thyme, lady’s mantle… And, perhaps unsurprisingly given the company’s close connections to the Swiss landscape, caring for that environment is a high priority for Ricola today. Organic production and sustainability are central to the business’s ethos, and the herbs that go into their products are grown without pesticides, herbicides or insecticides. The Ricola Foundation promotes and supports projects in the field of cultivation and nature, remaining true to the original meaning of ‘culture’ – caring for the soil.

Harvesting herbs - image courtesy of Ricola

As with many of Switzerland’s most successful and venerable companies – including Victorinox, who produce the famous Swiss army knives – Ricola is still a family affair. The current CEO, Felix Richterich, is the grandson of the founder. Total global production, too, remains based very close by to where the original Ricola candies were made.

Ricola is the perfect example of the ways in which these key Swiss values – tradition, loyalty to one’s roots and a strong sense of place – can actually facilitate innovation and global success. Today, it brings a little taste of the goodness of Switzerland to millions of people around the world.

Interested in reading more about another quintessentially Swiss family business? Visit our post about Victorinox.

For more on Switzerland’s sweetest exports, read out post about Swiss chocolate.

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