Swiss residents booze more than OECD average

Residents of Switzerland have been drinking less booze over the past three decades but they are still knocking back more alcohol than the average for OECD countries, a new study for the organization shows.

Swiss residents booze more than OECD average
Photo: AFP

In 2012, Swiss consumption of pure alcohol per capita for those 15 years and older was 9.9 litres, compared with an estimated 9.1 litres for the 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In a report released on Tuesday, the Paris-based body warned that drinking among women and children is on the rise, while the average amount of alcohol quaffed by residents of largely affluent OECD countries was twice the global rate.

Estonia (averaging 12.3 litres per person per year), Austria (12.2 litres) and France (12 litres) had the highest consumption.

OECD members Norway, Iceland, Poland, Finland, Britain and Ireland, also notched up large increases in alcohol consumption during the study period.

But consumption across the 34 rich economies studied by the OECD declined by 2.5 percent on average over the same period.

Those countries below the OECD average included South Korea, the United States and Canada, while the lowest on the list were Israel and Turkey.

In Switzerland, though overall alcoholic intake has fallen since 1980, the report said kids are starting to drink when they are younger, although the legal age for drinking beer and wine is 16 and 18 for spirits.

“Initiation into alcoholic drinking happens at increasingly early ages,” it said.

“In Switzerland the proportion of 15-year-olds who have experienced alcohol increased from 55 percent in 2002 to 73 percent in 2010.”

This compared with Norway where youths are least exposed to liquor and where the proportion of 15-year-olds who tried tippling fell to less than 30 percent.

The report showed that more young people in Switzerland were drinking than their counterparts elsewhere in Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Estonia, Belgium, Canada and Finland.

But the share of 15-year-olds who have drunk alcohol was higher in the UK, Italy, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Denmark.

In the Czech Republic, the study found that more than 90 percent of boys and girls in that age bracket had tried drinking.

The average consumption of alcohol by Swiss residents is distorted because some people drink considerably more than others.

The study found that the heaviest drinking fifth of Switzerland’s population consume almost 54 percent of the booze.

Compared to other countries in the OECD, the Swiss have “somewhat milder levels of taxation of alcohol”, particularly for beer and no taxation for wine, but “relatively higher” levels of taxation for spirits.

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What is Switzerland’s ‘one franc vineyards’ scheme – and is it legit?

When news broke of vineyards being offered in the southwest of Switzerland for one franc, many asked if it was too good to be true. Here's what you need to know about the scheme (and how much a vineyard will actually cost you).

What is Switzerland's 'one franc vineyards' scheme - and is it legit?

Earlier in Spring, news broke of a new scheme where Swiss vineyards were available for just one franc. 

As with similar stories offering one franc plots of land or houses, the news spread far and wide – which of course was the point – while some eventually became disappointed. 

READ MORE: Gambarogno: The latest Swiss village to sell houses for one franc

While it’s likely to cost you a good deal more than one franc, if owning a Swiss vineyard (or at least part of it) is on your bucket list, you now have an opportunity to do so. 

Why are Swiss vineyards going cheap?

With nearly 5,000 hectares of vineyards and 60 different grape varieties, Valais is Switzerland’s largest wine-growing region.

Unfortunately, 20 percent of the canton’s vines are abandoned and municipalities must uproot them because they can’t find people willing to cultivate them.

A case in point is the community of Savièse, nestled in a picturesque Alpine valley. About 120 plots — four to five hectares — of  its vineyards were abandoned by their owners and therefore not harvested last year, as the commune can’t find people to do the work.

This is a serious case of neglect because “when a vine is not pruned, there is a period of one year to uproot it. Otherwise, there is a risk of spreading disease”, according to Savièse’s mayor, Sylvain Dumoulin.

“There are some vines where we need to do this now, and I fear the number will increase in the future”, he added.

How much does a plot cost?

In order to protect its winemaking traditions in general and abandoned plots in particular, the municipality has launched a new vines-saving project which includes a “stock exchange” of sorts for the sale and purchase of abandoned parcels.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to drink wine like a Swiss

Dumoulin didn’t reveal the cost of a plot of vineyard, as it depends on its location, condition and other factors.

Unfortunately, while you may have seen articles reporting that parcels are being sold for “a symbolic one franc”, this is more than likely a marketing ploy to attract attention than a realistic price.

Savièse’s vineyards. Screenshot, Saviè

“The main long-term objective is to encourage the grouping of plots and thus the rationalisation of the exploitation of these parcels”, Dumoulin told The Local.

He added that currently the project is “exclusively accessible for people who already own vineyards. But from July it will be open to anyone with an interest in purchasing vineyard areas”.

From then on, “anyone can download the application to find plots of vines for sale and to make their owner a price proposal”. 

The app, called “Vignoble Savièse” can be purchased in Apple or Google stores.

One example of such a gimmick was the Ticino town of Gambarogno, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, which offered houses for one franc.

‘Impossible’: Why Switzerland’s one franc homes are too good to be true

As The Local reported, “the news – along with pictures of the Ticino countryside and the lake itself – spread across the globe, with people inside and outside of Switzerland letting themselves dream”. 

However, the “rustic houses with the view of the lake” turned out to be nothing more than ruins, with no roofs, windows, electricity or running water, situated in remote locations — about an hour’s walk from the nearest village.