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Exports of Swiss biscuits crumble

Dropping off: Exports of long-life bakery products, such as these Willisauer Ringli, are down 8.5% Keystone

Declining exports, growing imports: the situation is grim for Swiss biscuit-makers and confectioners, says trade association Biscosuisse, which is calling for political action.

This content was published on November 12, 2020 - 16:33
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Export sales of confectionery products such as caramels, sugar-coated almonds and fruit jelly candy fell by 11% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2020, while domestic sales were down just under 10%.

Exports of long-life bakery products such as biscuits and semi-finished goods meanwhile fell by 8.5%, while manufacturers’ domestic sales were slightly higher than in 2019.

The Covid-19 pandemic was only partially to blame for this, Biscosuisse said on Thursday.

“The combination of tariffs for processed agricultural raw materials and ‘Swissness’ regulations is increasingly proving to be an obstacle for Switzerland as a place of production,” it complained.

To qualify as “Swiss Made” or to bear the Swiss cross, products must fulfil two criteria: they have to be manufactured in Switzerland, and 80% of their ingredients or materials must be made in the country (as an exception, chocolate only has to be manufactured in Switzerland; cacao trees don’t have to be grown in Swiss greenhouses).

Biscosuisse criticises for example the regulations around the declaration of the origin of ingredients, which it says deviate from EU law.

It says rapid political action is needed to stop the negative trend, including a deregulation initiative.

Corporate responsibility

Biscosuisse – which represents a branch with 3,305 employees – also warns against the responsible business initiative on which the Swiss vote on November 29. Acceptance of this initiative would result in a further increase in costs, it said, pointing out that raw materials such as gum arabic are imported from African countries.

The initiative’s new due diligence obligations and liability risks would also apply to small and medium-sized companies and would make production even more expensive because of the necessary monitoring processes, it said.

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