Swiss are buying increasing amounts of meat in neighbouring countries according to Switzerland’s professional meat union (UPSV).
Over the border
After three years of rising, Switzerland’s appetite for meat appears to have declined by around 1% in 2015, or 2% on a per capita basis, to an annual average of 51.4 kg per person.
These numbers though, exclude shopping abroad which is thought to have increased by 10%, according to professeur Mathias Binswanger. He thinks over-the-border Swiss shoppers imported around 8 to 10 kg of meat last year. He values total foreign meat shopping in 2015 at CHF 1.2 to 1.6 billion.
Under a slogan
Under the slogan “Don’t touch our plates!” the UPSV is hitting back at what it describes as increasingly frequent attempts by the authorities to dictate people’s food choices and steer them away from eating meat.
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently warned of links between processed and red meat and cancer. On processed meat WHO’s website says: “The consumption of processed meat was associated with small increases in the risk of cancer in the studies reviewed. In those studies, the risk generally increased with the amount of meat consumed. An analysis of data from 10 studies estimated that every 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18%.” On red meat in general it says: “The cancer risk related to the consumption of red meat is more difficult to estimate because the evidence that red meat causes cancer is not as strong. However, if the association of red meat and colorectal cancer were proven to be causal, data from the same studies suggest that the risk of colorectal cancer could increase by 17% for every 100 gram portion of red meat eaten daily.”
In addition, environmentalists like to point out the high carbon footprint that comes with meat eating. An article in the New Scientist explains how turning vegetarian could potentially halve CO2 equivalent emissions from food. Beef is by far the worst offender. Beef’s impact is neatly set out in Carnivore’s dilemma, an article in National Geographic, which shows that CO2 emissions related to beef are nearly five times that of pork and six times that of poultry.
The UPSV made no mention of the price boost and protection their industry gets from Switzerland’s high meat import tariffs. Beef is taxed highly, even beef from EU countries. Duty on some beef products can rise above CHF 20 per kg. If you are curious and interested in seeing wholesale import tariffs on more products, look up the product code here, and enter it here.
And if you are planning a shopping trip over the border don’t forget the 1 kg personal tax free meat allowance. Any meat exceeding 1 kg per person is taxed at CHF 17 per kg. Meat includes all animal species, excluding wild animals, fish and shellfish. More information on import duties can be found here.