BERN, SWITZERLAND – Chocolate and cheese consumption in Switzerland aren’t slipping, but two liquid icons of Swissness are continuing their downward trend: milk and wine consumption are both slipping, despite an increasing population.
Whether the larger share of foreigners in the population partially explains the change is a matter for conjecture.
Cheese consumption has remained virtually unchanged since 2007. The Swiss consumed 20.84kg per person in 2012, figures released by the national milk board, Swiss Milk, show.
A worrisome figure for Swiss millk producers, however, is that the share of imported cheese has risen from 23 to 30 percent in the past six years.
The bulk of the imports are from Italy, in particular soft cheeses such as mozarella, sold in supermarkets, which have become popular with consumers.
Top Swiss cheeses last year, in terms of production, were fromage frais, Emmental, Gruyere and other semi-hard to hard cheeses.
Gruyere remains by far the most exported cheese, with nearly four times as much exported as for any other type or category of cheese.
Milk down, yogurt up
The Swiss appear to be preferring solids as the way to consume milk products. Overall, average consumption of all milk products was 370kg per person, or a little more than one kilo a day. The figure is 2.5 percent lower than in 2011.
Last year, the Swiss drank 65.9kg of milk per person, 2.1kg less than in 2011. Yogurt consumption rose slightly, 0.5 percent, to 18.2kg, figures released this week show.
Chocolate remains well-loved, a bit more so in western SwitzerlandWestern Switzerland prefers dark chocolate, eastern likes it milky (source: Maison Cailler)
Caillier, owned by Nestlé, recently published a series of graphics that break down chocolate consumption by region, preference for dark or milk chocolate and more.
The company’s research shows that one in three Swiss eat chocolate at least once a day, which goes some way towards explaining the national consumption of 11.9kg per person, the highest in the world. Germany is close behind with 11.6 kg/person. The British eat 9.7kg and in the US the figure is 5.4kg per person
The Swiss chocolate industry nevertheless suffered lower sales in 2012 due to the high franc, with lower exports and sales as home where a drop in tourism had an impact. Chocosuisse reported in February:
“In 2012, Switzerland’s 18 chocolate manufacturers were unable to sustain the result from 2011 interms of either quantity or value. With a sales volume that decreased by around 4,000 to 172,376 tonnes(- 2.2 %), turnover across the industry dropped by 3.4 % to CHF 1,632 million. The decrease in turnover inthe export business can be attributed largely to the strength of the Swiss Franc. On the domestic market,the total turnover in terms of value was maintained, in spite of the somewhat subdued mood among consumers.Of total production, 60.3 % (previous year: 60.7 %) was sold abroad.”
Wine drinking falls, in line with international trendSwiss winemakers are some of the world’s most environmentally minded, and their wines are taking top awards in international competitions; Swiss consumers are tending to drink less, but are more demanding in terms of quality
The Swiss in 2012 drank 267 million litres of wine, a drop of 6 million litres (-2.2 percent). The lower consumption is in line with an international trend that has been going on for over a decade. White wine consumption was down 2.8 percent, Swiss Federal Agriculture figures published 17 April show, and red wine was down 1.9 percent.
Swiss wines accounted for just under 100 million litres of the total, a 3.5 percent drop that has the industry worried, and is encouraging a move towards top-quality products, a trend similar to that in the chocolate industry.