Swiss consumers have been turning their noses up at beef in the aftermath of the latest crisis over BSE, or mad cow disease. New figures for last year show that consumption per inhabitant dropped by more than 10 per cent compared to 1999.
Total meat consumption in Switzerland fell to 382,000 tonnes last year, down by 5,700 compared to 1999.
The Swiss central cooperative for meat distribution, Proviande, said most of the drop in sales was because consumers were buying less beef, particularly during the last three months of 2000.
Consumption fell most in the French-speaking part of the country, where fears about BSE were exacerbated by the outbreak in neighbouring France. Sales dropped by 17 per cent in the last quarter.
German-speakers were less worried by the disease, sales dipped by just three per cent during the same period, according to an independent study.
The falling sales were accompanied by a sharp drop in beef production in Switzerland last year. Despite the fall - of 12.6 per cent - prices remained stable with imports taking up the slack.
Overall, each Swiss consumed 52 kilogrammes of meat in 2000, with pork accounting for almost half of all consumption.
Poultry was also in higher demand, with consumption up four per cent, and production up by eight.
Mutton and lamb sales jumped 12.6 per cent, while other meats sold in slightly higher quantities. Their market share remained low, however.
Seafood also benefited from increased sales, with the Swiss consuming nearly eight kilogrammes each on average.
swissinfo with agencies