Switzerland

KEY INDICATORS 2012¹
•Organic agricultural area: 125 961 hectares
•Organic operators: 6173
•Retail sales: EUR 1 520.33 million

HISTORY OF ORGANIC FARMING
• 1940s: Hand and Maria Müller promote organic agriculture among farmers in the country
• 1973: The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) is founded.
• 1977: The first Scientific Conference of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is held in Sissach near Basel, organised by FiBL.
• 1980: Bio Suisse, the organic sector organisation, is founded
• 1993: The retailer Coop launches its organic Naturaplan prduct line, followed by Migros in 1995
• 2000: The 13th IFOAM conference takes place in Basel. 

KEY SECTOR INSTITUTIONS
• Bio Suisse, Swiss federation of organic organisations: www.biosuisse.ch
• bio.inspecta, the largest Swiss inspection body: www.bioinspecta.ch
• FiBL, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture: www.fibl.org
• Swiss Demeter Association: www.demeter.ch

PRODUCTION BASE: LAND USE AND KEY CROPS
Of the total area of 125 961 hectares, 78.0% consists of permanent grassland and grazing areas, 17.4% arable land and 1% permanent crops. The key arable crops are green fodder from arable land (102 000), cereals (6 700 hectares) and vegetables (1 600 hectares). The key permanent crops are fruit (500  hectares), grapes (37 hectares) and permanent medicinal and aromatic plants (118 hectares).

MARKET
The Swiss organic market has grown steadily in recent years and is now well developed, with the highest per capita consumption of organic products in the world. At 6.3%, the market share is also larger than in most other countries.

Top-selling products: Eggs (EUR 40.08 million, 20.5% if all eggs sold), fresh bread (EUR 131.67 million, 18.8%), direct marketing and potatoes (EUR 136.38 million, 12.9%)

Market channels include general retailers (mainly Coop and Migros - 77.9%), specialised retailers (12.5%), direct marketing (5.5%) and other channels (4%).

Exports and imports: Data on exports and imports are not publically available. It may be assumed, however, that Switzerland imports a large proportion of the organic products that are consumed in the country. In terms of exports, dairy products play a role.

STANDARDS, LEGISLATION, ORGANIC LOGO
The Swiss Organic Law applies (Verordnung über die biologische Landwirtschaft und die Kennzeichnung biologisch produzierter Erzeugnisse und Lebensmittel).² There is no national logo for organic products, but the logo of the umbrella organisation Bio Suisse is widely used.

POLICY SUPPORT
Direct payments for organic farming are granted under a special scheme (Direktzahlungsverordnung) which has been in operation since the beginning of the 1990s. The agricultural policy for 2014 to 2017 is currently still under preparation.

National action plan: There is no action plan for organic food and farming in Switzerland.

Other policy support: Funding for FiBL, the Research Institute of organic Agriculture, as well as organic farming research and support for the organic advisory services of the cantons.

RESEARCH & ADVICE
The main institutions carrying out relevant research are the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the state research institutes Agroscope www.agroscope.admin.ch and the Insititute of natural resource Sciences, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), www.lsfm.zhaw.ch/en/lsfm.html. Advice is provided by the cantonal advisory services and FiBL, which provided specialised advice to farmers as well as training courses and technical information for practicioners. 

CHALLENGES & OUTLOOK
One of the key challenges facing the Swiss organic sector is the relatively low domestic supply of organic food. Despite the rapidly growing market, the extent of organic agricultural land is only growing slowly. This challenge is currently being addressed by Bio Suisse, together with many other actors in the organic sector. 

FURTHER INFORMATION
• Organic Eprints for Switzerland: www.orgprints.org/view/projects/sw.html
• News and background information for organic farmers: www.bioaktuell.ch
• News about the Swiss organic sector: www.bionetz.ch
• Information on organic farming from Coop: www.naturaplan.ch and Migros: www.migros.ch/bio

For other relevant websites, see the sections on key sector institutions and research & advice.

Wirtten by Helga Willer, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), helga.willer [at] fibl.org, www.fibl.org

ENDNOTES
¹Area and operator data: FiBL; market data: Bio Suisse
²More information available at: http://www.admin.ch/opc/de/classified-compilation/19970385/201301010000/...

 

Want to learn more?
Order your copy of Organic in Europe: Prospects and Developments at the IFOAM Bookstore a new publication by IFOAM EU produced in association the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture - FiBL and the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies - CIHEAM-IAMB.

"Ökologischer Landbau in Europa" ist auch in deutscher Sprache erhältlich (über den FiBL-Shop)