To anyone familiar with Swiss prices, the results of Eurostats’ 2018 European meat price comparison will come as no surprise.
The study compares the average meat price across 38 European countries to the average meat price across the EU (EU-28 nations).
Meat includes beef and veal, pork, lamb, mutton and goat, poultry, other meats and edible offal, delicatessen and other meat preparations.
At the bottom of the price ranking was Montenegro where meat cost on average 62% of the EU average. Switzerland came top with an average price 2.28 times the EU average.
Switzerland’s meat price premium was lower in 2018 than in 2017 when it was 2.4 times the European average.
- Why Swiss farm produce is so expensive (Le News)
- Switzerland is expensive, but not for the reasons most think (Le News)
Other nations with pricey meat include Iceland (1.65), Norway (1.55), Austria (1.46), Luxembourg (1.42), France (1.31), Belgium (1.26), Netherlands (1.23), Finland (1.22), Denmark (1.21), and Italy (1.2). Prices in the UK (0.95), Greece (0.91), Spain (0.89) and Portugal (0.83) were all below the EU average. The price in Germany was 1.06 times the EU average.
Does cross-border meat shopping still pay in Switzerland?
It depends. The cost of extra fuel and car miles need to be deducted from any savings, as well as the lost value of the extra time required, and for those who care about their environmental impact, the unaccounted for environmental cost of the extra travel.
A family shopping trip to Germany for a family of four could save between CHF 50 and CHF 100 roughly on 4kg of duty free meat, depending on the mix of products and the choice of retailers. Shopping in Italy or France would shave 15% to 20% off these savings.
In Switzerland, the duty free limit for meat is 1kg per person. If you exceed this weight, duty of CHF 17 per kg is payable on every kg over the first kg.
Given the high carbon footprint of meat, it could be argued that Switzerland’s high meat prices are just what’s needed to nudge people towards a healthier more environmentally friendly plant rich diet – the price of fruits and vegetables in Switzerland was only 1.53 times the EU average. Producing meat protein requires up to 26 times as much water as vegetable protein, up to 17 times as much land, and up to 7 times as much phosphate1. Add in livestock burps and farts and the environmental toll climbs further2.
1 Quantification of the environmental impact of different dietary protein choices (in English)
2 Livestock’s long shadow – Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (in English)