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SWITZERLAND

Introduction

For the past ten years, organic agriculture has been developing dynamically in Switzerland. The area of agricultural land being farmed according to organic standards is expanding rapidly. By end 2000, agricultural land used for organic farming reached some 95 000 ha (9.0 percent), including land in conversion to organic. Since 1990, organic farms have increased almost eight-fold. By end 2000, there were 5 850 organic farms, or 9.2 percent of all agricultural holdings in Switzerland. Further growth in farm conversions to organic agriculture is to be expected in the next few years, albeit at a less rapid growth rate.

Figure 1: Swiss Organic Agriculture - number of holdings (1990 - 2000)


Source: FiBL, 2001

In line with the increasing supply of organic products, the Swiss organic market is also developing dynamically. The turnover of certified organic products was estimated at SFr770 million in 2000 (or two percent of the entire Swiss food market).

1. Organic farming in Switzerland

In terms of area, the most significant organic crops grown in Switzerland are bread cereals, fodder cereals, vegetables and potatoes. The main organic products of animal origin are milk, meat or meat products, eggs and dairy products, the latter being the most important product group. Organic products are grown on private family farms, the average size of which is 16 ha.

1.1 Main products of organic horticulture

Organic vegetable production began in 1947 with the founding of a growing and processing cooperative (today known as Bio Gemüse AVG Galmiz). At the beginning of the 1990s, land under organic vegetable production reached 250 ha while in 19991 it grew to approximately 850 ha, which represents some 10 percent of the total area under vegetable production in Switzerland.

Approximately 650 organic farms have their own vegetable production. However, only 5 percent of those farms have vegetable areas above 5 ha. About 70 percent of horticultural farms have less than 1 ha under vegetable production.

Total organic vegetable production in 1999 was estimated to be between 20 000-25 000 tonnes. The main products are carrots, cabbage and celery (see Table 1). The share of organic onions in total onion production is low compared to other vegetables; this is mainly due to production problems with the onion cultivation (e.g. weed and mildew).

The area set aside for greenhouse organic production is only 26 ha, of which approximately two-thirds is used for tomato production. Another important greenhouse crop is cucumbers.

Table 1: Production and relative yield of the main stored vegetable crops

Crop

Organic area (ha)

Share of organic area in relation to the total area by crop (%)

Yield of organic products in relation to integrated products (%)

1997

1999

1997

1999

1997

1999

Carrots

20

74

3.8

12

79

83

Celery

4

16

2.4

11

86

91

Beetroots

0

12

0

15

125

83

Cabbage

6

32

2.3

14

83

52

Onions

5

17

1.5

5

53

33

Source: SZG, 1999.

In 1999 fruit production accounted for 313 ha and berry production 49 ha. Table 2 provides an indication of the relative size and yields of the most important fruit products. Apples are the most significant organic fruit product, with a total area of 213 ha. Between three and five percent of all apples are produced organically.

Table 2: Overview on production and relative yields of the most relevant organic fruit production

Category

Number of Farms

Area(ha)

Estimated yield of organic products in relation to integrated products (%)

Fruits

Apples

366

213

70-80

Apricots

36

13

70

Pears

93

34

70-80

Cherries

41

10

60-70

Mixed fruit areas

125

54

-

Peaches

2

0.3

70.80

Plums

31

6.5

70-80

Berries/Kiwi

Blackberries

41

2.8

80

Strawberry

99

11.1

70

Blueberry

25

1.8

80

Raspberry

121

7.3

80

Elderberry

10

1.5

80

Blackcurrants

15

0.4

80

Red currants

37

2.3

80

Kiwi fruit

10

14.9

80

Gooseberry

12

0.4

80

Mixed berry areas

70

6.4

-

Source: Hartnagel, 2000.

1.2 Governmental policy on organic farming

Since 1993, two forms of direct support are available to farmers in Switzerland: direct payments to all farmers - organic and non-organic - and payments to farmers who produce in an environmentally and animal friendly way. The Federal Office of Agriculture is responsible for managing this system of payments. The Ordinance on direct payments in agriculture (Verordnung über die Direktzahlungen in der Landwirtschaft 910.13) contains provisions relating to payments for organic farming. It forms the basis for the disbursal of ecologically motivated direct payments in Switzerland and is an expression of the Swiss agricultural policy objective to promote organic farming. There is no Federal financial support during conversion; however, five cantons provide support. In recent years, the difference between general farm payments and those available to organic farmers has narrowed significantly. Therefore, based on direct payment structures, there is less of an incentive to convert to organic than in the early to mid-1990s.

It is expected that the number of farms converting to organic farming in the future will be smaller due to market conditions. The amount paid per hectare for organic farms will not increase much, but the total of overall expenditure will rise due to the increasing organically cultivated area. It is expected that some cantons will reduce their payments for conversion due to financial pressures.

2. The Swiss market for organic fruit and vegetables

In the past few years, the supply of organic vegetables has grown strongly in Switzerland. Increases in domestic production and a high demand for organic fruit and vegetables have positively influenced the development of the organic sector. A survey in the German-speaking part of Switzerland in 1997 revealed that vegetables and fruits are one of the most demanded organic product groups, before eggs, meat and milk.

2.1 Sales of organic fruit and vegetables: main products

Prior to the 1990s, organic fruit and vegetables were sold primarily through weekly markets. Typically, production focussed on processed and stored vegetables. Over the last decade, there has been a sharp growth in the supply of fresh organic vegetables. The major turning point was in 1993 when COOP, the second largest retail chain in Switzerland, launched the "Naturaplan" line. There was a three-fold increase in production between 1993 and 1997. Today, ten percent of all vegetables sold in COOP are sold as organic.

Organic fruits hold a five percent share of the total fruit market, while organic vegetables represent ten percent of the vegetable market (in 2000). During the late 1990s, strong growth in vegetable and fruit production and sales were observed. Reasons behind this growth include the development of better plant protection products and a broad introduction of fruits and vegetables into supermarkets. Moreover, Government support has contributed to the observed growth.

Among organic fruit, apples and pears are important. Experts believe the market potential for organic apples is between 10 and 20 percent. The most important apple variety is the ‘Golden Delicious’ followed by ‘Maigold’ and ‘Idared’. The percentage of organic pears in total pear production was about three percent in the year 2000. The main variety is ‘Gute Luise’, which accounts for 75 percent of all organic pears.

The most important vegetables are carrots, cabbage and celery, while, due to problems related to weeds and diseases, organic onions hold a significantly low share of sales - only four-five percent.

2.2 Average prices at retail level and range of premiums over conventional products

Price premiums on organic products vary according to product group and type of market. They are partly determined by higher production and distribution costs, but also by the willingness of consumers to pay a premium. They tend to be higher in specialized organic food stores/natural food stores and lower in supermarkets and mainstream consumer outlets. In the latter two market types premiums for the following product groups are approximately:

  • Vegetables:

40-80 percent

  • Potatoes:

50 percent

  • Fruits and nuts:

50-60 percent

The majority of consumers accept a 10-30 percent premium for organic products, with a somewhat greater willingness to pay the premium for organically grown plant products than for organically produced animal products. However, if the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables is above average, consumers are more likely to pay higher prices. Consumers are also willing to pay a higher premium for speciality products.

Table 3: Comparison of producer prices for organic and conventional fruit and vegetable products


Conventional

Organic

% Premium

2000 (Fr/kg)

2000 (Fr/kg)

Fresh Fruit




Apples

0.48-1.06

1.60-2.00

133.8

Pears

1.05-1.90

1.90-2.20

39.0

Fresh Vegetables




Aubergine

1.90-2.90

2.20-3.10

10.4

Broccoli

2.00-4.00

2.50-4.20

8.3

Carrot

0.40-1.40

1.00-1.70

50

Fennel

1.40-2.80

1.80-2.80

9.5

Courgette

1.00-2.90

1.30-3.20

15.4

Cucumber

0.6-1.10
(per piece)

0.80-1.60
(per piece)

41.2

Peppers

1.80-3.70

2.90-4.80

36.4

Tomatoes

1.50-2.70

1.20-2.90

-2.3

Cherry tomatoes

4.00-6.00

4.40-6.70

11

Celery

0.70-1.60

1.30-2.20

52.2

Leeks

1.00-4.80

1.40-4.90

8.6

Cress

8.00-9.00

9.00-10.50

14.7

Cauliflower

1.00-3.00

1.60-3.50

22.5

Radish

0.70-1.00

0.80-1.20

17.6

Brussels sprouts

2.80-2.90

2.80-3.10

3.5

Chinese cabbage

0.70-1.40

1.00-1.80

33.3

Carrots

0.38

0.70

84.2

Beetroot

0.47

0.55

17.0

Celery

0.75

1.20

60

Red cabbage

0.60

0.85

41.7

White cabbage

0.60

0.75

25

Savoy cabbage

0.80

1.10

37.5

Large onions

0.50

0.80

60

Medium onions

0.50

0.80

60

Source: LBL/FiBL Preiskatalog 2000.

2.3 Distribution channels (wholesalers, supermarkets, specialized stores, on-farm)

Supermarkets account for 70 percent of all fresh and stored organic vegetable sales in Switzerland. COOP’s launching of its ecological/organic programme "Naturaplan" stimulated a three-fold increase in the area of organic vegetable production since 1993. Fresh fruits are available through retail chains. However, the range is not complete, due mainly to quality problems. Popular fruit juices and nectars (orange, apple and pear) tend to be sold through supermarket chains, while syrups, blends and juices from other fruits tend to be available only though speciality stores.

Table 4 shows the sales channels for organic vegetables and fruit in Switzerland. Retail chains are the most important channel for the sale of organic vegetables and fruit. Direct marketing accounts for between 15 and 20 percent of sales in both product groups.

Table 4: Main sales channels for organic vegetables, fruit and potatoes in Switzerland, 2000

Sales Channels

Organic Fruit

Organic Vegetables

Retail Chains

50

70

Direct Marketing

20

15

Other

30

15

Total

100

100

Source: *NOTE: No source provided*

COOP and Migros, two supermarket chains, are likely to increasingly dominate sales. Since the entry of these two supermarket chains, in the early and mid 1990s, respectively, sales of organic products have strongly increased. Currently, around 60 percent of all organic products are sold through these supermarket chains.

Since 1995, Migros has been selling organic fruit and vegetables under its own label and standards programme ‘Migros-Bio’. In 1999/2000 they had a turnover of SFr8.2 million. In the same year, it had a turnover of SFr31.8 million. Migros has 40 suppliers of organic fruit and 70 suppliers of organic vegetables. COOP has been selling organic vegetables since 1993 and fruit since 1997 under its COOP ‘Naturaplan’. They sold around 15 000 tonnes of organic vegetables in the year 2000. Although there are no detailed data, convenience products (e.g. prepacked salads), herbs and sprouts generate the highest turnover. COOP and Migros each offered approximately 30 products in organic fruit and 80 in organic vegetables. Contact details of these supermarkets and wholesale firms, importers and agents who have specialized in the import of organic products are given in Annex I.

2.4 Trends (growth rate of sales, leading products, consumer and retailer attitudes)

The product group fruit and vegetables will be discussed in terms of the following sub-groups: fresh and stored vegetables, processed vegetables, fresh fruits, fruit juices and dried fruits.

Fresh and stored vegetables

Depending on the type of outlet and the region, over 25 percent of vegetables sold are organically grown. This is true for both specialist retail trade and supermarkets, which now account for approximately 70 percent of organic vegetable sales. In the last few years, the annual growth in turnover reached 10 percent. This growth rate should climb to 20 percent in the next few years. However, there is currently a balance between supply and demand of fresh vegetables. In fact, some Swiss operators are looking to export organic vegetables to the UK and Germany. Experts rate the future market situation for fresh vegetables as good, and expect that the outlook for stored vegetables will also remain good. Carrots, different types of cabbages, broccoli and onions will continue to be the major products.

Processed vegetables

The trend in favour of convenience food and ready-to-serve meals has increased the demand for processed vegetables and is expected to continue to rise. The greatest demand is for organic products of Knospe (BIO SUISSE's "bud" label) quality. Some firms have already specialized in this area. The newer firms are also interested in exporting processed vegetables. As with fresh vegetables, over half of these products are sold in the COOP and Migros supermarket chains. Demand from the restaurant sector is expected to grow. The market situation for processed vegetables, such as spinach, is one of undersupply. Experts rate the market situation as good to very good, now and in the foreseeable future.

Fresh fruit

Organic cultivation of pome and stone fruits underwent a radical improvement in quality during the 1990s, thanks to newly developed production methods and new disease-resistant varieties.

However, the cultivation of organic cherries has not progressed beyond an early stage because of persistent technical cultivation problems (disease problems, cherry fly). Mass market retail chains are nonetheless extremely keen to complete their organic ranges. Thus, the potential for development is quite attractive, promising good future sales opportunities for pome fruit (mainly apples and pears) and stone fruit (mainly cherries, apricots and peaches). This is particularly true of fruits which are still under-represented on the market. At present, there is a good potential for apple and cherry importers as there is an undersupply. The market volume for citrus fruits is currently rising by 20-30 percent per year.

Fruit juices

Apple, pear and grape juice have been produced in Switzerland for many years, along with juices and syrups from various other fruits (blackcurrants, strawberries, etc.). Towards the end of the 1990s, sales of these fruit juices were increasing by 80 percent per year. They have become well established, not only in natural food stores but also in supermarket chain outlets. Citrus and tropical fruit juices, on the other hand, can only be obtained in specialist stores and rarely at supermarkets, although there is considerable interest in these juices. Demand is set to rise sharply in the next few years, for organic orange juice in particular. Manufacturers of children’s foods feature prominently among the buyers of tropical fruit juices. Experts take a positive view of future development: they expect annual growth in sales of organic juices to reach 40 percent, and even more in the short term for orange and grapefruit juices.

Dried fruits and nuts

Dried fruits and nuts from organic production are relatively straightforward from the logistical management point of view and play a key role in composite products like "Muesli" and baked goods. Rising demand can be expected, particularly from bakers. Nuts are the most important product and offer the greatest potential for growth. Dried fruits are already well established and available both in natural food stores and in supermarkets. The future market prospects are good. In the medium term, an annual growth rate of five-ten percent can be expected.

Table 5: Market and growth prospects for fruit and vegetable product sub-groups

Product sub-group

2000

2003

Fresh Vegetables

Good

Good

Stored Vegetables

Average

Average

Processed Vegetables

Good

Good

Fresh Fruit

Good

Good

Fruit Juice

Good

Very Good

Dried Fruit

Good

Good

Scale: Very good, good, average, poor.
Source: SIPPO-Study, 2001.

2.5 Consumer attitudes

Organic foods are by no means novel products on the Swiss market. However, the growing demand has only come to the attention of the food industry and trade in the last 10-15 years. The increased demand for organic foods is predicated on a variety of key factors, including:

A BIO SUISSE survey indicates that 27 percent of those interviewed purchase organic products at least once a week, 40 percent purchase them less than once a week and 25 percent never purchase them (Figure 2). Whereas in the past organic products consumers were mainly those who linked an organic diet with a holistic, ecological lifestyle, today a growing number of average consumers have a positive attitude towards organic products. However, this is only transformed into real demand by attractive offers. Thus, the entrepreneurial efforts of retail chains in Switzerland are primarily directed towards better fulfilment of consumers' aspirations towards healthy, natural and enjoyable foods, but also towards trendy organic products.

Figure 2: Frequency of purchase of organic products in Switzerland


Source: BIO SUISSE, 2001


2.6 Main constraints to market development

In general terms, Swiss import restrictions are the major constraining factor to market development: domestic production is protected by trade duties during phases of good domestic provision. However, by law phases of high duties must be interspersed with phases of low duties. These periods of low trade duties mostly coincide with periods of insufficient domestic supply (between November and April) and represent the best opportunity for entering the market.

There is a parallel range of consumer related factors restricting the growth of the market for organic foods:

3. Imports of certified organic fruit and vegetables into Switzerland

3.1 Market access regulations

Around two thirds of organic products sold in Switzerland are produced domestically. The remainder largely consists of products which cannot be grown in Switzerland, such as coffee or citrus fruits. Swiss traders and retailers prefer domestically produced goods whenever possible. Nevertheless, imports take up an important place to supplement out of season domestic supplies and to bridge bottlenecks in supply. This calls for quick reactions to the market situation on the part of exporters and importers. Import quotas are determined weekly and can therefore change quite rapidly.

Typically, fruits and vegetables are imported to compensate for seasonal fluctuations in supply. Therefore, the main issue for importers is to understand that import quotas for fruits and vegetables are set in coordination with the seasonal availability of Swiss products.

Imports of products from countries outside the EC which are imported into Switzerland (and also into the EC) are regulated by means of equivalent requirements: production, inspection and certification, and labelling of organic products in emerging markets and markets in transition must conform to conditions that are equivalent to those contained in the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance. The "Knospe" (Bud label), the label of BIO SUISSE, is additional, but desirable, as it has high consumer recognition and is often a requirement of retailers or processors.

In order for an imported product to be marketed as organic the producers, processors and exporters of the country of origin and the Swiss importers must be certified by an accredited inspection body at least once a year. Inspection and certification bodies must conform to EN-45011 or ISO-65 standards and obtain accreditation from the Swiss Federal Office of Metrology (Eidgenössisches Amt für Messwesen).

3.2 Imports from countries on the Country List

Countries in which the government imposes conditions on organic products equivalent to those applied in Switzerland, and in which adherence to these conditions is guaranteed, may be included on a Country List by the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (Eidgenössische Volkswirtschaftsdepartement, EVD) (Annex IV of the Organic Farming Ordinance). Countries wishing to be included on this list must submit an application to the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG; Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft, BLW), giving details showing that their production regulations and inspection systems are equivalent.

At the present time, all EC countries as well as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Argentina and Australia are included on the Swiss Country List. Organic imports from these countries are subject to simpler procedures for approval. For such imports, the exporter must obtain an import certificate (Einfuhrbescheinigung) from the certification body in the country of origin. This certificate is presented to the importer in Switzerland. It is required by the certification body when the annual inspection of the business is carried out. Moreover, this document confirms that the imported product is an organic product. Until the end of 2000, the Swiss Country List relates only to organic products of plant origin. From 1 January 2001, it also includes organic products of animal origin.

3.3 Imports from non-approved countries outside the EC

Analogously to the EC, Switzerland operates a system of "individual authorization". For direct imports from countries that are not included on the list of third countries, the importer in Switzerland must submit an application for individual authorization to the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) together with an attestation of equivalence for the relevant product and its producer. Individual authorizations are listed annually in the Swiss official trade gazette (Schweizerische Handelsamtsblatt). Only when the individual authorization has been granted may the product be imported into Switzerland as an organic product. Every shipment must be accompanied by an import certificate.

3.4 Customs regulations and value-added tax

For organic products, the general customs tariffs and regulations apply. High customs duties are levied on a range of agricultural products such as sugar, cereals, vegetable oils and dairy products. For some products, special import licences are also necessary; however, they are only granted to Swiss importers. Higher customs duties are levied on processed products than on raw materials. Further details are contained in the Swiss Ordinance on agricultural imports (Schweizerische Agrareinfuhrverordnung).

As in the EC, preferential customs duties may be applied to imports of certain agricultural products from emerging markets and markets in transition, in accordance with the Swiss tariff preferences system (Generalized System of Preferences), and these are lower than the tariffs that are usually applied. Imports from Least Developed Countries are exempted from customs duties for the majority of headings in the customs tariffs. A complete and updated list of customs tariffs may be obtained upon request from the Swiss Federal Customs Administration (Eidgenössische Zollverwaltung). Importers pay a value-added tax of 2.4 percent (from 2001) on foodstuffs that they bring into Switzerland. The VAT rate is the same for both imported goods and those produced in Switzerland.

3.5 Requirements laid down in the legislation on food

Both organically and conventionally-produced foods, irrespective of whether or not they are imported, are subject to Swiss laws and ordinances relating to foodstuffs. The key pieces of legislation or regulation are given in Annex IV. These ordinances relate mainly to foodstuffs packaged for the consumer and are not directly relevant to bulk imports. Foreign exporters to the Swiss market should nevertheless take these requirements into consideration since the final products processed from imported raw materials must comply with them.

3.6 Total imports of organic foods (volume)

Estimated import shares of organic products are given in Figure 3. The figure illustrate that roughly 15 percent of organic fruit and vegetable products are imported into Switzerland.

Figure 3: Estimated import shares of organic products in Switzerland


Source: FiBL (estimates), 2000. NB: Both categories related to fruit and vegetables include
import levels for fruit and vegetables together. However imports of fruit are actually higher than
those of vegetables. Therefore these figures will not equate with any calculations
made using data in Tables 6 or 7.


Table 6 shows estimated domestic production and imports by major product groups.

Table 6: Domestic organic supply and imports in Switzerland, 2000

Product group

Domestic produce (t)

Imports (t)

Vegetables

30 000

2 500

Fresh fruits

6 490

3 000

Dried fruits and nuts

*

485

Fruit juices

*

260

* No data available

Source: FiBL based on figures from FiBL, BIO SUISSE, bio.inspecta, Swiss Federal Statistical Office, 20003.8

3.7 Breakdown of organic fruit and vegetable imports by product (volume)

Table 7 shows the volume of imports of vegetables and fruits. Based on the figures for products imported under BIO SUISSE Knospe (Bud label), the imports from other sources and total imports were calculated. The table illustrates that most of the imports are of products that cannot be grown in Switzerland or that are in undersupply in certain periods, such as winter.

Table 7: Imports into Switzerland of organic fruit and vegetables, 2000

Product

Imports BIO SUISSE Knospe

Imports (other programmes)*

Total Organic Imports*

Product

Imports BIO SUISSE Knospe

Imports (other programmes)*

Total Organic Imports*

Fruits

Vegetables

Citrus fruits

1294

760

2054

Cauliflower

311

183

494

Figs

211

124

335

Potatoes

287

169

456

Banana

137

80

217

Tomatoes (and products)

238

140

378

Strawberries (incl. Frozen)

86

51

137

Onions

166

98

264

Peaches (incl. Frozen)

79

46

125

Beetroot

105

62

167

Grapes

63

37

100

Fennel

81

48

129

Apricots

62

36

98

Cucumber

55

32

87

Apples

58

34

92

Broccoli

72

42

114

Plums

45

26

71

Diverse vegetables

117

69

186

Nectarines

43

25

68

Carrots

34

19

53

Dried apricots

25

15

40





Total

2103

1234

3337

Total

1466

862

2328

*Estimates based on BIO SUISSE figures for imports under its Knospe (Bud) label.

3.8 Trend for each product group

Fresh and stored vegetables

Imports of fresh vegetables are constantly increasing. The primary countries of origin for imported organic vegetables are Italy and France. Smaller quantities are imported from Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Israel and Canada. In future, it is expected that more vegetables will be purchased from the Mediterranean countries, especially in winter, and from Israel and Egypt in particular. Germany and Austria can also be expected to supply more organic vegetables.

Processed vegetables

Most processed vegetables are produced domestically, while Italy is the main supplier of imports (e.g. tomatoes, artichokes). Smaller quantities are bought from France, Hungary, Germany and the Netherlands. There is some limited scope on the Swiss market for processed vegetables from overseas, provided that they are transported by ship. Given a similar product range, neighbouring countries have better market prospects since transporting goods long-distance from overseas is opposed on ecological grounds.

Fresh fruits

Due to climatic factors, apricots and peaches are not widely grown in Switzerland and are thus mainly imported from Mediterranean countries. Citrus fruits and exotic fruits are exclusively imported. Lemons and oranges originate from Italy and Spain. Bananas come primarily from the Dominican Republic and in smaller quantities from Mexico and Uganda. Mangoes and grapefruit come from Ghana, pineapples and passion fruit from Uganda. Other fruits come from Israel, Germany, Austria, Argentina and Chile.

The market for tropical fruits is still very new and has a strong potential in both the delicatessen sector and normal mainstream retail outlets. As with fresh vegetables, high duties are imposed on local fruit varieties in times of good domestic provision. During periods when there are shortfalls in the Swiss supply, lower duties and high import quotas are set for these same fruit species.

Table 8 presents the trend prognosis by individual products for imports of fruits and vegetables into Switzerland.

Table 8: Growth trend in imports until the year 2002

Product

Trend in import development until 2002

Product

Trend in import development until 2002

Fruit

Vegetables

Oranges


Artichokes


Lemons


Asparagus


Figs


Aubergine


Bananas


Beet root


Plums


Broccoli


Grapes


Brussels sprouts


Apricots


Carrots


Apples


Cauliflower


Nectarines


Chicory


Pears


Cucumber


Kiwi fruit


Fennel


Dates


Leek


Pineapple


Onions


Grapefruit


Peppers


Avocados


Potatoes


Peaches


Salad




Spinach




Tomatoes




Zucchini


Source: Expert estimations, 2001.

Key:

Imports reducing by more than 10 percent per year
Imports reducing up to 10 percent per year
Imports stable
Imports increasing by up to 10 percent per year
Imports increasing by more than 10 percent per year

Fruit juices

Apple, pear and grape juice originate mainly from Switzerland. Orange juice is mainly imported from Italy, Israel and Brazil. Other countries of provenance are Mexico, Uruguay and Honduras. The supply of citrus juices from tropical and sub-tropical countries (Latin America) increases yearly. The well-established market for traditional Swiss juices (apple, pear, etc.) is supplemented by organic citrus juices and exotic fruit juices, a market which was not so well catered for in the past.

Dried fruits and nuts

Products in this group are easy to import into Switzerland: domestic production is far from sufficient to meet existing demand, and the BIO SUISSE ban on imports of organic products by air is not a barrier since the products ship easily and keep well. Nuts are bought primarily from Turkey, almonds from California and Turkey, figs from Turkey and dates from Tunisia. Other dried fruits and nuts come from Morocco, Tunisia, Costa Rica and Italy.

3.9 Main importers and their principal products (contact details in annex)

A complete list of main importers and their products is given in Annex I.

3.10 Product specification (packaging, quality, quantities,)

Fresh and stored vegetables

Processed vegetables

Fresh fruits

Fruit juices

Dried fruits and nuts

3.11 Re-exports

Some firms, such as BIOTTA, have been exporting vegetable and fruit juices to Germany for many years. It is expected that the export of this kind of processed products will grow in the future.

3.12 Constraints to import growth

In the past, the range of imported organic products was fairly wide. However, organic products were restricted in terms of the quantities available, to the occasional frustration of producers, import/exporters and retailers. This can be explained by the following main factors:

Despite these constraining factors, imports of organically produced foods and beverages into Switzerland are constantly rising, especially for durum wheat, bread and fodder cereals, soya, rice, citrus fruits and dried fruits.

4. Conclusions: market opportunities for developing countries

Retail sales of BIO SUISSE labelled Knospe (Bud label) products have increased by around SWF80 million from 1998 to 1999, representing a 14 percent growth. Experts expect that the Swiss market for organic foods to grow by 20 percent per year in the next five years. In this development, the most important factors are:

4.1 Summary of key characteristics of the market

The Swiss market for organic fruit and vegetables is growing dynamically. Imports are presently used to fill seasonal domestic supply gaps and to supply products which simply cannot be grown in Switzerland. However, demand is increasing at a rate that exceeds the domestic capacity to supply. This may be the case even with products that Switzerland can easily produce all year round.

Demand is driven primarily by supermarket chains. The two major chains, Migros and COOP, have both vigorously pushed organic products and wish to expand their range of organic fruit and vegetables. Whilst small traditional organic food stores still represent an important sales channel, the supermarkets are clearly expanding their market share.

Ideally, the supermarkets wish to provide a full range of organic goods that mirrors the conventional supply. This strategy is designed to attract occasional organic consumers, who wish to have the same organic assortment that exists in conventional food. Given that the bulk of consumers are occasional, converting these consumers to frequent organic consumers is the key to capturing this market share.

4.2 Products with best commercial prospects and for which developing countries have a comparative advantage

The main opportunities for imports come from those products that are easily shipped. Given that the BIO SUISSE label prohibits transport by air, fresh and processed fruits and vegetables may be difficult to import under the BIO SUISSE label, unless the country is nearby. However, other labels (e.g. Migros Bio) do not prohibit air transport. Opportunities that are suited to countries that are not geographically close to Switzerland are mainly in tropical fruit juices and dried fruits and nuts. Both products store well and therefore can be transported by ship or land.

Where this issue of transport can be overcome, opportunities exist in those fresh fruits that are not grown in Switzerland. These are typically tropical and other fruits e.g. apricots, pears, mangoes, grapefruit, pineapple and passion fruit. Processed mushrooms are particularly in demand at the moment. The best opportunities for organic vegetables are in supplying the market during winter months, when domestic supply is absent and import quotas are higher.

4.3 Main opportunities and constraints

Import into Switzerland is limited by quotas set by the Government. Therefore, exporters and importers need to understand how these quotas work and identify seasonal opportunities to supply specific markets where shortages in domestic supply may exist.

It is clear that domestic demand for organic fruit and vegetables will continue to grow. It is less clear whether domestic demand will be met by an increase in domestic supply. Hence, there is a possibility that quotas could be increased over time. This is particularly so as supermarket chains become more involved in building demand, in trying to complete their organic fruit and vegetable range and reduce seasonal shortages. The constraint will be that Swiss consumers currently have a preference for domestically produced products.

Access to the Swiss market for products from developing countries and countries in transition is set by regulations on equivalence. The production, processing, inspection, certification and labelling of organic products in these countries must take place according to requirements which are equivalent to those of the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance. This is not to say that identical procedures are imposed. In fact, it is desirable to adapt organic farming standards to local conditions and make use of certification bodies in these countries.

The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Frick can be of assistance with feasibility studies and detailed market research: http://www.fibl.ch. The Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO) promotes imports from developing countries and countries in transition: http://sippo.ch.

4.4 Entry strategy and recommendations for export development

Regardless of the product, importers must bear in mind the following aspects:

In general, it is recommendable to use the services of an importer to introduce organic products into Switzerland, rather than selling them directly to the food industry or trade. Importers can provide the exporter with information on market conditions, quality standards, market access restrictions and import formalities. Just as importantly, they can provide the logistical services needed in order to reach the customer quickly. In addition, many industrial buyers prefer to obtain goods from familiar intermediary organizations which take on the upfront workload and costs of importing on their behalf.

Annex I
List of contact details for major fruit and vegetable importers

Andros
Ch. de la Crétaux
C.P. 413, CH-1196 Gland
Tel: 41 22 995 08 00
Fax: +41 22 995 09 46
Orange juices

Agrexco Ltd.
Jungholzstr. 6, CH-8050, Zürich
Tel: 1-315 76 20
Fax: 1-315 76 70
Fruits/vegetables

Bargosa S.A.-Genève
25. rue Biavignao, CH-1227
Carouge-Genève
Tel: 22-343 71 60
Fax: 22-342 80 72
Fruits/vegetables

Biofamilia AG
Brünigstrasse 141, CH-6072
Sachseln
Tel: 41 666 25 55
Fax: 41 666 25 50
Processed nuts, sugar, dried fruit
into Muesli

Biofarm-Genossenschaft
Postfach 18, CH-4936
Kleindietwil
Tel: 62 957 80 50
Dried fruit and nuts, sugar

Bioforce AG
Abt. Heilpflanzenanbau, CH-
9325 Roggwil
Tel: 71 - 454 61 61
Fax: 71 - 454 61 62
Processed vegetables

Biogemüse Galmiz
Zährli 9, CH-3285 Galmiz
Tel: 26 - 670 42 42
Fax: 26 - 670 27 72
Fresh vegetables

Biotta AG
Pflanzbergstr. 8, CH-8274
Tägerwilen
Tel: 71 - 666 80 80
Fax: 71 - 666 80 81
Juices, fresh vegetables

Bonatura AG
Industriestrasse 7, CH-3210
Kerzers
Tel: 31 750 14 26
Fax: 31 750 14 24
Fresh fruits (raspberries)

Eichberg Bio AG
Seetalstrasse 60, CH-5705
Hallwil
Tel: 62 767 61 61
Fax: 62 767 61 67
Fresh fruits, juices, vegetables,
dried fruit and nuts

First Catering Produktion AG
Grindelstr. 9, CH-8303
Bassersdorf
Tel: 01-8369688
Fax: 01-836 98 55
Vegetables/fruits

Frigemo AG Production Cressier
Rte de Neuchâtel 49, CH-2088
Cressier
Tel: 32 758 53 69
Fax: 32 757 17 38
Fresh vegetables

Fruit of Integrity GmbH
Eichberg 32, CH-5707 Seengen
Tel: 62 767 61 74 (MM)
Fax: 62-767 61 60
Dried fruits

Fructo Ltd.
Schlosstrasse 1, CH-4654 Lostorf
Tel: 62-298 30 35
Fax: 62-298 30 36
Banana puree, mango pulp, etc.
frutco@frutco.ch

Gugger-Guillod SA
Rte de l'Industrie 5, CH-1786
Sugiez
Tel: 26 - 673 23 73
Fax: 26 - 673 19 04
Fresh vegetables

Georges Helfer SA
Chemin De Fontenailles, CH-
1196 Gland
Tel: 22 99999 99
Fax: 22-99999 88\
Avocados

Aux mille saveurs SA
Importation et distribution de
fruits et légumes biologiques
Chemin de Sus Vellaz, CH-1137
Yens
Tel: 21-8005201
Fax: 21-8005289
jcserex@worldcom.ch

Hess Import
Haldenstr. 38, CH-8142 Uitikon
Tel: 1-400 42 41
Fax: 1-400 42 42
Dried fruits

Hilcona AG
FL-09494 Schaan
Tel: 75 235 95 95
Fax: 75 232 02 85
Vegetables

Horizonti Kräuterhandel GmbH
Mittelholzerstr. 9, CH-9015 St.
Gallen
Tel: 79-220 18 67/71-3112096
Tax: 71-311 46 17/2096
Spices/herbs

HPW Marketing GmbH
Laurenzenvorstadt 79, CH-5000
Aarau
Tel: 62-82215 15
Fax: 62-82226 64
Pineapples

Lavia Diretta
Barigiotta Strasse, CH-6597
Agarone
Tel: 91 859 03 68
Fax: 91 859 03 68
Fresh vegetables, stored
vegetables, potatoes,
stone fruit, berries and cabbage

Lendi
Erboristi
CH-6981, Bedigliora
Tel: 91 606 71 70
Fax: 91 -606 34 91
Tomatoes in oil, mushrooms in oil

Mavena AG
Birkenweg 1-8, CH-3123 Belp
Tel: 31 819 11 11
Fax: 31 819 15 30
Protein plants, pumpkin seeds for
baby food

Erich Meier Früchte + Gemüse
Amriswilerstrasse, CH-8589
Sitterdorf
Fax: 71-42249 76
Vegetables/fruits

Obipektin AG
Industriestr. 8, CH-9220
Bischofszell
Tel: 71-424 73 16
Fax: 71-424 73 90
Fruit extracts

Rimuss-Kellerei Rahm & Co.
Schulgasse 165, CH-8215 Hallau
(SH)
Tel: 52-681 31 44
Fax: 52-681 40 14
Wine/juice

Schläppi & Co.
Stationsstr. 1, CH-3076 Worb 2
Tel: 31-839 22 05
Fax: 31-839 90 45
Dried fruits

Alex Schönenberger & Co.
Fürstenlandstr. 23, CH-9500 Wil
Tel. 71-911 41 33
Fax: 71-911 41 35
Concentrates

Stettler Gewürzspezialitäten
Hauptstr. 13, CH-9562 Märwil
Tel: 71-655 15 34
Fax: 71-655 15 55
Spices/herbs

Unipektin AG
Bahnhofstr. 9, CH-8264 Eschenz
Tel: 52-742 31 31
Fax: 52-742 31 32
Concentrates

Varistor AG
Weststrasse 5, CH-5426 Lengnau
Tel: 56 266 50 60
Fax: 56 266 50 70
Processed vegetables, dried fruit
and nuts,
culinary and medicinal herbs

Via Verde
Brunnmatt, CH-6264 Pfaffnau
Tel: 62 747 07 47
Fax: 62 747 07 37
Fresh fruit, juices, vegetables,
dried fruit and
nuts, culinary and medicinal
herbs

Annex II
List of organizations in the organic sector

Agricultural Associations

Demeter Schweiz
(Association for bio-dynamic
agriculture)
Grabenackerstr. 15, Postfach
CH-4142 Münchenstein
Tel: 61 416 06 43
Fax: 61 41 606 44
kuefferheer@dplanet.ch

BIO SUISSE
(Association of Swiss Organic
Agriculture Organizations)
Missionsstrasse 60, CH-4055
Basel
Tel: 61 385 96 10
Fax: 61 385 96 11
bio@bio-suisse.ch
www.bio-suisse.ch

Bioterra
(Swiss association for organic
agriculture)
Dubstrasse 33, CH-8003 Zürich
Tel: 1 463 5514
Fax: 1 463 4849
Bioterra@swissonline.ch
www.bioterra.ch

Advisory Bodies

FiBL - Forschungsinstitut für Biologischen Landbau
(Research Institute of Organic
Agriculture)
Ackerstrasse, Postfach, CH-5070
Frick
Tel: 62 865 72 72
Fax: 62 865 72 73
admin@fibl.ch
www.fibl.ch

SIPPO - Swiss Import Promotion Programme OSEC
Stampfenbachstr. 85, PO BOX
492
CH-8035 Zürich
Tel: 1 365 51 51
Fax: 1 365 52 21
info@sippo.ch
www.sippo.ch

Government Bodies

Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft
(Swiss Federal Office for
Agriculture)
Mattenhofstrasse 5, CH-3003
Bern
Tel: 31 322 25 11
Fax: 31 322 26 34
www.blw.admin.ch

Bundesamt für Gesundheit
(Swiss Federal Office for Public Health)
CH-3003 Bern
Tel: 31 322 21 11
Fax: 31 322 95 07
www.admin.ch/bag/

Eidgenössische Zollverwaltung
(Swiss Federal Customs Administration)
Oberzolldirektion, CH-3003 Bern
Tel: 31 322 65 11
Fax: 31 322 78 72
www.zoll.admin.ch

Bundesamt für Statistik
(Swiss Federal Statistical Office)
Espace de l'Europe 10, CH-2010
Neuchâtel
Tel: 32 713 60 11
Fax: 32 713 60 12
www.statistik.admin.ch

Supermarket Chains

Migros Genossenschafts-Bund
Limmatstrasse 152, CH-8005
Zürich
Tel: 1 277 21 11
Fax: 1-277 23 33/1 277 25 25
www.migros.ch

Coop Schweiz
Thiersteinerallée 12, CH-4002
Basel
Tel: 61 336 66 66
Fax: 61 336 74 91
www.coop.ch

USEGO AG
Industriestrasse 25, CH-8604
Volketswil
Tel: 1 - 947 14 14
Fax: 1 945 05 60
www.usego.ch

Manor AG
Reggasse 34, CH-4058 Basel
Tel: 61 686 11 11
Fax: 61 681 11 92
www.manor.ch

Catering

Gate Gourmet - Zürich AG
CH-8058 Zürich-Flughafen
1 812 12 12
1 812 91 92

www.swissair.com/ourservices/air/gourmet.htm

Annex III
Other sources of information on the Swiss organic market
(Web sites, magazines, directories...)

Web information corner for the food and organic market in Switzerland

http://naturaplan.coop.ch/index.htm
Information on the 'NATURAplan' range by COOP and Webcams at various organic production sites (German site).

http://www.migros.ch/
Overview of the Migros supermarket chain (German & French).

http://www.bionetz.ch
Directories of organic food stores, restaurants, wholesalers, food processing in Switzerland, recipes and free small ads (German).

http://www.biofood.net
Business-to-business sector information and news platform for international and local trade in organic products (English & Dutch).

http://www.bio-suisse.ch/html/g_handel_1.html
Firms licensed by BIO SUISSE to manufacture products of Knospe (Bud label) quality. Searchable database of firms supplying organic products, including addresses (English; for French replace e_handel with f_handel; for German with g_handel).

http://www.bio-suisse.ch/html/g_konsumenten_2.html
Restaurants in Switzerland offering organic products (English; for French replace e_konsumenten with f_konsumenten; for German with g_konsumenten).

Web information corner on requirements and conditions relating to access for organic imports into Switzerland

http://www.blw.admin.ch/
The Web site of the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture provides detailed information on:

http://www.blw.admin.ch/nuetzlich/links/d/zertifstellen.htm
A list of European certification bodies can be downloaded from this page maintained by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft).

http://www.admin.ch/
Original texts of:

http://www.zoll.admin.ch
Customs tariffs of the Federal Customs Administration.

http://www.iso.ch/
The home page of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in Geneva provides a link to ISO-65, the standard pertaining to certification bodies.

http://www.cenorm.be/
The home page of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) provides a link to the text of the EN-45011 standard.

http://www.bio-inspecta.ch/
Services provided by the inspection and certification company bio.inspecta. http://www.imo.ch

Services provided by the inspection and certification company 'Institut für Marktökologie' (IMO).

http://www.sgs.ch
Services provided by the inspection and certification company SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance).

http://www.sqs.ch
Services provided by the inspection and certification company Swiss Association for Quality and Management Systems (SQS).

http://www.sas.admin.ch
The Swiss Federal Office of Metrology is the accreditation body for inspection and certification bodies in Switzerland.

http://www.bio-suisse.ch
The Web site of BIO SUISSE (Association of Swiss Organic Agriculture Organizations, Vereinigung Schweizer Biolandbau-Organisationen) provides detailed information on:

http://www.maxhavelaar.ch/
The Web site of Max Havelaar Switzerland, one of the most important Fair Trade organizations.

http://sippo.ch
The home page of the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO) contains information on Swiss activities to promote imports from emerging markets and markets in transition. Web information corner relating to services for organic agriculture

http://www.fibl.ch/
The FiBL Web site provides:

http://www.fiv.ch/
Information on the research programme of the Forschungsinstitut für Vitalqualität (FIV) in Frick.

http://www.goetheanum.ch
Information on the research programme of the Goetheanum in Dornach.

http://www.admin.ch/sar/en/research/index.htm
Overview of agricultural research projects in Switzerland.

http://www.abtvii.ethz.ch
Information on degree courses in Agroecology at the Department of Agriculture and Food Sciences (Departement Agrar- und Lebensmittelwissenschaften) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich.

http://www.fh-agro.ch
Information on degree courses in Agroecology and Regional Planning (Agrarökologie und Raumplanung) at the Swiss College of Agriculture (SHL) in Zollikofen.

Annex IV
Legislation on food items

Food Act (Lebensmittelgesetz 817.0)

Ordinance on food (Lebensmittelverordnung 817.02)

Ordinance on foreign substances and constituents in foods (Verordnung über Fremd- und Inhaltstoffe in Lebensmitteln, 817.021.23)

Ordinance on additives permissible in foodstuffs (Verordnung über die in Lebensmitteln zulässigen Zusatzstoffe, 817.021.22)

Ordinance on hygiene and microbiological requirements relating to foodstuffs, objects in contact with foodstuffs, workrooms and staff (Verordnung über die hygienisch-mikrobiologischen Anfordernungen an Lebensmittel, Gebrauchsgegenstände, Räume und Personal 817.051)

Ordinance on nutritional value (Nährwertverordnung 817.021.55)

Ordinance on indication of country of origin of foodstuffs, ingredients and raw materials used in foodstuffs (Verordnung über die Angabe des Produktionslandes von Lebensmitteln, Lebensmittelzutaten und Rohstoffen 817.021.51)

Ordinance on the measurement and declaration of quantities relating to goods for trade and transportation purposes (Verordnung über das Abmessen und die Mengendeklaration von Waren in Handel und Verkehr 941.281)


1 All data on vegetable areas are accumulated figures; different crops for the same area of production of vegetables during one year is taken into account.

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