• Switzerland's news in English

Swiss cheese exports dented by price war

Malcolm Curtis · 8 Feb 2013, 11:43

Published: 08 Feb 2013 11:43 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Cheese sales abroad rose 3.7 percent last year from 2011, although exports of standard bearers Appenzeller and Gruyère dipped, Switzerland Cheese Marketing said on Friday.

A total of 66,905 tons of cheese, cheese spreads and fondue mixtures were shipped out of the country, up 2,388 tons from the previous year.

After a good start to the year — with exports up almost nine percent in the first six months — Swiss cheeses lost ground.

“Our competitors — especially the big enterprises — lowered their prices,” Manuela Sonderegger, spokeswoman for Swiss Cheese Marketing in Bern told The Local.

The Swiss cheese industry had to contend with a price war, in addition to the strong franc, which makes products from Switzerland more expensive in foreign countries, Sonderegger said.

But overall sales remained robust in much of Europe, which accounts for 85 percent of the Swiss cheese market.

“This really shows people appreciate the quality and people are ready to pay more for good cheese,” Sonderegger said.

Emmentaler (17,863 tons), Gruyère (11,527 tons) and Appenzeller (5,183 tons) account for more than half (51.7 percent) of total cheese exports.

Sonderegger acknowledged that with tougher economic times “when people have to look after their money, Swiss cheese is a luxury product”.

Exports to the US, “where they are really price sensitive”, dropped 16 percent.

Appenzeller exports fell eight percent and Gruyère dipped 1.5 percent, while foreign sales of other varieties such as Tête du Moine, Vacherin Fribourgeois, Tilsiter, Raclette and Sbrinz were also lower.

This was offset by sharply higher sales of Mozzarella and specialty cheeses.

Meanwhile, overall sales in Germany, Switzerland’s biggest market, jumped more than 12 percent to 29,347 tonnes, compensating for declines in Italy (11,874 tons, 2.9 percent lower) and France (5,889 tons, down 10 percent).

Other markets in the EU were positive, including Britain, where Swiss cheese imports rose more than 12 percent.

The exception was Spain, severely impacted by the economic crisis, where sales plunged more than 25 percent, although the country is a relatively small importer of Swiss cheese to begin with.

Sonderegger contrasted the Swiss cheese industry with that of other countries, where large factories mass produce products.

“We have 600 cheese makers, mostly little dairies with one to four people working,” she said.

Swiss cheeses may be more expensive than others, but they are hand-made, without additives, from locally produced milk, Sonderegger noted.

“We continue to work on cheese quality and people working (in the industry) are proud of their product.”

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Presented by MoneyPark
How to get a mortgage in Switzerland
Houses in Zürich. Photo: Pixabay.

Ready to buy? Here’s what you need to know as an expat about Swiss regulations, how to finance your purchase, and why you should use a broker.

Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Report: Swiss progress slows on gender equality
File photo: David Soulivet

Globally, it will take 170 years to achieve gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.

Brothers go to court to stop suicide of sibling
File photo: Lisa Edmonds

Two men have filed a legal bid to prevent the Swiss assisted suicide association Exit from helping their older brother to kill himself.

Wawrinka snubs past form to reach Basel second round
Wawrinka beat local wildcard Marco Chiudinelli. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has reached the second round in Basel after going out in the first round for the past four years.

Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
jobs available