BY STEPHANIE E. PONDER
ON THE northwest border of
Switzerland lies the small town
of Laufen, where one company
has firm roots in the past while
keeping an eye on innovation.
Ricola, the maker of cough and throat
drops, got its start in the ;;;;s when master baker Emil Richterich created the
herbal mixture still used today to make the
Original Natural Herb Cough Drops. The
instantly recognizable rectangular drops
became so popular that Emil and his wife
shut down their bakery a decade later to set
up full-time throat drop production. The
name Ricola comes from shortening
Richterich Compagnie Laufen.
In the past ;;-plus years, Ricola has
gro wn into a global brand. “We have devel-
oped a lot of new products, new flavors,
new textures and new packaging con-
cepts,” says CEO Felix Richterich, the
third generation to lead the family-owned
company. “Our original herb cough drop is
still our No. ; product worldwide. That’s
our flagship and will remain our flagship.”
As with many companies, sustainabil-
ity is a priority for Ricola. “It’s important
that you not only claim it, but you also live
it and try to get better,” says Richterich
from his office in Laufen. “We all know
that there’s room for improvement. We try
to set goals and to become, every year, a
little bit better.”
To help reach its goals, Ricola has
invested in energy-saving standards and
technology, only uses herbs from organic
farms—acreage equal to approximately
;;; football fields—and sources ;; per-
cent of its raw materials from within ;;;
miles of Laufen.
Another priority is quality control.
Ricola’s products have to meet Swissmedic
(the Swiss regulatory authority for medi-
cine) requirements along with U.S. Food
and Drug Administration and interna-
tional food standards for all of the coun-
tries where its products are available.
The process begins with various checks
of the raw materials, followed by additional random checks during production.
The finished products are controlled for
active-ingredient standardization and
Richterich adds, “The taste is very
important, so we taste the products in our
laboratory, and we have a group of
employees from different departments …
tasting existing products and new prod-
uct ideas. They are trained to describe
what they taste: Is it bitter, is it salty, is it
sweet, is it herbal?”
All of that hard work—from harvesting
herbs to the final product—is a point of
pride for Richterich. “What people don’t
realize is what care we take for our herbs,”
he says. “Most people think it’s just a flavor
or something, but we really cultivate the
herbs in the Swiss mountains, with a lot of
care, with our producers who are indepen-
dent farmers.” C
CEO: Felix Richterich
EMPLOYEES: More than 400 worldwide
HEADQUARTERS: Laufen, Switzerland
PRODUCTS AT COSTCO: Original Natural
Herb Cough Drops and Lemon-Mint
Sugar-Free Herb Throat Drops
COMMENT ABOUT COSTCO: “Costco has
been a valued business partner of Ricola
since shortly after the brand was first sold
in the U.S. They know their members very
well, and always challenge us to make
sure we are delivering the best product
at the best price for the Costco member.”
—Bill Higgins, president, Ricola USA Harvesting the herbs.
WHILE THE recipe for Ricola’s Original
Natural Herb Throat Drops is a secret,
here’s a look at how some of the herbs
have been used throughout history.
According to folklore, the hollow branches
of the elder bush have been known to
de-stress and uplift.
Horehound was often placed inside
medicine chests of pharaohs or used as
a poison cure in Roman times.
Greeks used hyssop to fight off throat,
chest and other bronchial complaints.
In ancient times, peppermint was used
for calming and cooling effects.
Courtesy of Ricola