Posted on February 25, 2011 - by

Good Food Around the World: Switzerland

This weekend, FRESH will be screened at the Festival du Film Vert in Geneva, Switzerland. For the occasion, we’ll take a look at the state of sustainable food systems in Switzerland. Allons-y!

When it comes to things the Swiss excel at, people automatically think of trains, chocolates and efficiency. However, there is another area that Switzerland is a leader in: sustainably-produced food.

More than ever before, the Swiss have become socially-conscious consumers, and actively seek out products with organic, fair trade and sustainable labeling. The country is the world-leader in per capita consumption of fair-trade goods, at 35 ChF per person, and there is a strong sense of awareness that high-quality food cannot be bought for cut-rate prices (Swiss Info).

Even the large-scale supermarkets are in on the act. Both Migros and Coop, the two largest grocery retailers in the country, carry several lines of organic products. Their weekly flyers are sent to households, touting the benefits of local, organic and seasonal food to one in every three people (Swiss Info).

Coop alone accounts for half of all organic food sales in the country. By 2013, the company hopes that at least 20% of food sales will be through the Coop Naturaplan organic line. In addition, Coop has jumped into the green energy market by selling vouchers for a quantity of electricity that is generated in an eco-friendly manner before being added to the national grid (Food & Drink Europe).

And it doesn’t stop there. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is committed to strengthening food security internationally, with initiatives to eradicate hunger in far-flung locales, from East Africa to Peru. For instance, in North Korea, the agency has supported biological pest control measures, increasing cabbage yields by 40%. The organization hopes to halt the degradation of natural resources, improve land governance, and strengthen family farming in developing nations (SDC).

Is this what it looks like when sustainable products go mainstream? Can large retailers find a happy coexistence with small-scale producers? Will Walmart lead the charge in the US for greener retailing?

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