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CHOCOLATE

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.

Chocolate bunnies in Switzerland
Photo: STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP

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.

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COVID-19

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?

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