Meat, cheese or booze: What do the Swiss spend the most money on?

Meat, cheese or booze: What do the Swiss spend the most money on?
Swiss consumers shops mostly in retail chains. Photo by AFP
Feel like you ate more than usual last year? Switzerland spent more than ever on food in 2020 - but what food item took up the biggest slice of the budget?

Two new studies have shown what foods Swiss consumers like to buy, and which expenses take out the biggest chunk out of their budget.

The food retail in Switzerland achieved a record turnover of almost 30 billion francs in 2020, an increase of more than 11 percent compared to 2019.

This is the finding of in-depth analysis carried out by the Federal Office for Agriculture, which examined expenditures in physical grocery stores, not online purchases.

The main finding: Swiss households spent 7,680 francs on average in 2020 on food and drink. One in 10 francs was spent on organic products.

Consumers showed preference for Swiss agriculture

This is reflected in the amount of money they spent on domestic meat, milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables. All of these goods generated a turnover of 10.6 billion francs, the study shows.

The highest single expense in Switzerland was on meat. The average household spent 1,383 francs on meat in 2020. 

The next highest single expense category was, predictably, drinks – with the average Swiss spending 1,237 francs on drinks in 2020. 

MAPS: Which canton is Switzerland's fattest? 

Dairy products made up 1,026 francs while breads and cereals cost the average Swiss 840 francs last year. 

‘Animal products’, that is, meat and eggs, made up 35.6 percent of food expenses, while fruits and vegetables accounted for 13.7 percent.

Most consumers shop in retail chains

Migros, Coop, and other chains generated food sales of 22.9 billion francs or 77 percent of total sales. Discounters like Denner and Aldi totalled 17 percent.

The smallest turnover — 1.8 million francs — was generated by smaller specialty food shops, bakeries, and butchers.

Their share of sales was only 6.1 percent.

Organic produce

Households spent an average of only 820 francs —slightly more than ten percent of total expenditure — to buy organic food. Organic eggs were particularly popular.

READ MORE: Swiss cheese exports swell amid pandemic cooking frenzy 

Regional differences

Interestingly, the study found local preferences for the kind of food being purchased in different regions.

For instance, households in French-speaking Switzerland spent 4 percent of their budget on fish, compared to just 2.1 percent in the Swiss-German part.

Also, households in urban areas bought less meat and milk than those in rural regions. And families with children had higher expenses for meat, while those without children spent more on vegetables and alcohol.

Household budget

Another new study, released by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), shows what goods and services take out the biggest chunk of a household budget. 

The biggest expenses — 24.9 percent of overall budget—  are housing and energy, which include rent or mortgage payments, as well as electricity and heating costs.

Next are healthcare insurance (15.6 percent), followed by commuting costs (10.9) and groceries (10.5). All these costs are predicted to increase in 2021.

An earlier FSO study indicated that the average household disposable income in Switzerland is just over 7,000 francs per month. 

READ MORE: What do people in Switzerland spend their money on? 


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