Study maps Swiss divide over chocolate treats

Residents of French-speaking Switzerland are the biggest consumers of chocolate in the world, shows a new study that maps regional differences in Swiss taste.

Study maps Swiss divide over chocolate treats
Image: Cailler

The most chocolate in the mountain country is gobbled down in the cantons of Jura, Fribourg, Valais, Neuchâtel and Vaud (in that order), according to a survey conducted for Cailler, the Swiss chocolate subsidiary of Nestlé.

Swiss residents devoured an average of 11.9 kilograms of chocolate in 2012, making them world champions, figures supplied by Chocosuisse, the federation of Swiss chocolate makers indicate.

Cailler, based in the town of Broc in the canton of Fribourg, launched a study to map the regions of the country to find out exactly who is eating the most and what kind.

The research was conducted in collaboration with Unico-first SA, an institute for market studies, and the Zurich university of applied sciences (ZHAW).

It found that those in the canton of Jura eat the most chocolate, while those in the canton of Zurich the least.

Among other findings, the study showed one third of Swiss eat chocolate at least once a day.

And it noted a cultural divide or “Schokoladegraben” between the German-speaking cantons on the one side and the “Latin” regions of Suisse Romande (French-speaking Switzerland) and Italian-speaking Ticino on the other.

The “Latins” tend to prefer dark chocolate (containing higher levels of cocoa), while German-speaking Swiss prefer milk chocolate.

The study showed that couples and parents tend to nibble more of the stuff than singles and divorcees.

And it discovered that the favorite time for residents across Switzerland to have their choco-treats is between 9 and 10pm, just ahead of the lunch hour, times coinciding with dessert and coffee.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swiss chocolate consumption falls to 40-year low in pandemic

The desire for comfort food during the pandemic has failed to boost the fortunes of Swiss chocolate.

Swiss chocolate consumption falls to 40-year low in pandemic

Swiss chocolate makers were perhaps expecting a sweet spot as people turned to comfort food during the pandemic but are instead facing devastating 2020 figures showing consumption in Switzerland melting to a 40-year-low.

Chocosuisse, the national federation of Swiss chocolate makers, painted a bleak picture this week of the impact that the Covid-19 crisis had taken on the industry, with plunging production, exports and even consumption.

And Lindt and Sprungli, one of the wealthy Alpine nation’s most famous chocolate makers, published its annual results Tuesday detailing a nearly 11-percent drop in its 2020 revenues, to 4 billion Swiss francs ($4.4 billion, 3.6 billion euros).

Amid lockdowns and a pandemic-fuelled economic crisis last year, it may not be surprising that Swiss chocolate makers overall saw their production fall, shrinking 10 percent compared to 2019, to 180,000 tonnes, according to Chocosuisse.

And exports, which account for nearly 70 percent of Swiss chocolate makers’ revenues, fell by more than that, slumping 11.5 percent in 2020, to 126,000 tonnes.

More surprising perhaps is that the country renowned for its love of high-quality cocoa products, where people gobble up more chocolate per capita than anywhere else in the world, also saw consumption drop.

Lowest since 1982

In fact, annual consumption fell to below the symbolic threshold of 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) per person, dipping to 9.9 kilos — the lowest level since 1982.

A major contributor to the drop, Chocosuisse chief Urs Furrer told AFP, was the steep decline in foreign tourists, who tend to tip the consumption scales.

The per capita chocolate consumption in a country is calculated by dividing the volumes sold by the number of inhabitants, leading to inflated figures in Switzerland, where chocolate treats are a favourite souvenir.

“It would be impossible to calculate the exact consumption of residents, because in shops, the salespeople do not know if their customer lives in Switzerland or is a tourist,” Furrer said.

But the absence of tourists is not the whole explanation for last year’s decline. In Switzerland as elsewhere, the health crisis and accompanying restrictions including forced teleworking, has had a clear impact on consumption habits.

“Consumption also dropped in areas that are usually crowded with passers-by, like train stations and city centres,” Furrer said, pointing out that chocolate was often an impulse buy by people on the move.

Physical distancing requirements have also taken a toll on social occasions where handing over a box of chocolates might be expected.

“The sale of gift boxes of pralines has also declined,” Furrer said.

At the same time however, the sale of raw products like chocolate masse usually used by chocolatiers, bakeries and patisseries rose last year as more amateurs delved into making their own sweets at home.