Swiss end coffee stockpiling

Switzerland has announced plans to abolish its emergency stockpiles of coffee after the beans were deemed unessential to human survival.

Nestle’s instant coffee Nescafe and other producers are required under Swiss law to store bags of raw coffee. Switzerland also stockpiles sugar, rice, cooking oils and animal feed.

Swiss emergency reserves were established in the interwar years as the neutral country prepared for shortages in case of war, natural disaster or epidemics.

Coffee stockpiling obligations would expire by 2023, with suppliers allowed to cut down their warehouse supplies.

“The Federal Office for National Economic Supply has concluded coffee … is not essential for life,” the Swiss authorities said. “Coffee has almost no calories and subsequently does not contribute, from the physiological perspective to safeguarding nutrition.”

Switzerland’s 8.5 million residents consume around 9kg of coffee per person annually, compared to the UK’s 3.3kg average, according to the International Coffee Organisation.

Coffee drinkers opt to spend tomorrow’s energy today when they indulge in a caffeine-fuelled beverage. 

A final decision on the coffee stockpiles is due in November.

Switzerland finances its coffee stockpile through a fee of 3.75 Swiss francs on every 100kg of imported beans, raising 2.7 million Swiss francs (€2.4 million) annually to compensate suppliers for storing the coffee.

Switzerland’s mandatory coffee reserves are now spread over 15 suppliers and amount to about 15,300 tonnes, enough to supply domestic consumption for around three months.

According to World Atlas, the average Swiss coffee drinker has up to five cups a day, almost twice as much as their American counterpart.

Referendum reversal 

The result of a Swiss referendum has been overturned for the first time in the Alpine state’s modern history.

The February 2016 plebiscite asked if married couples and co-habiting partners should pay the same tax.

Voters rejected the proposal, with 50.8 per cent in opposition only for the supreme court to overrule the result on the grounds that voters were not given full information. The poll must now be rerun. 

During the campaign, the Swiss government said around 80,000 married couples were paying more tax than couples living together.

The figure was almost 500,000, the authorities subsequently admitted.

The Christian Democratic Party lodged an appeal against the result in June last year.

Under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, a proposal needs 100,000 signatures before going to a public vote.


A Swiss bunker. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

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