The crux of Swissness

The new Swissness Act has been in force since the start of the year. The food industry has had to modify packaging and recipes as a result.

Photo: Keystone

The pork in the mini cordon bleu comes from Switzerland, as do the cheese and ham used in it. Until now the convenience food producer Bofrost has labelled this product with a Swiss flag in its catalogue. However, that now has to stop owing to the coating. The breadcrumbs do not come from Switzerland and under the new Swissness regulations the product may no longer be advertised as Swiss. The new law stipulates that at least 80 % of the weight of ingredients in food products must come from Switzerland in order for it to be marketed as Swiss. The coating accounts for 25 % of the weight of Bofrost’s mini cordon bleu.

Many Swiss companies in the food industry have been forced to change their recipes, packaging or both owing to the new legislation, including the muesli manufacturer Bio-Familia. The company would have needed to remove the Swiss cross from 110 of 130 different product packaging types owing to the new provisions. By modifying 50 recipes, it was able to leave the flag symbol on the packaging. Niklaus Iten of Bio-Familia reveals that intensive discussions took place within the company about whether to make the changes or to simply relinquish the Swiss cross in future. In the end the company decided to retain the symbol, fearing a fall in demand from abroad otherwise. “Export customers clearly indicated to us that they wouldn’t buy without the Swiss cross,” remarks Iten.

Juices or French fries

The new law has also forced the food producer Hero to take action. The Swiss logo has been removed from 70 products, including pasta sold under the Napoli brand. While it is made in Switzerland, there are not sufficient supplies of durum wheat semolina here and it is therefore imported. Further examples include Nestlé removing the Swiss cross from 80 products, including the Thomy and Leisi brands. The Swiss cross has had to be taken off Ramseier juices containing exotic fruit. The logo has been removed from the French fries in Frigemo’s convenience food range. Guarantees could not be provided that they consisted of 80 % Swiss potatoes. However, the herbal sweets manufacturer Ricola, which exploits its Swiss origin very heavily in marketing, is only talking about making selective modifications to recipes.

Many companies are critical of the new legislation. Hochdorf, the milk processing company, believes it focuses too one-sidedly on the origin of raw materials and too little on production in Switzerland. Daniel Bloch, CEO of Camille Bloch, which makes Ragusa chocolate, complains: “The cumbersome demands on the origin of raw materials create new obstacles for companies manufacturing in Switzerland.”

Consumer protection representative Sarah Stalder has little sympathy with such views: “Complaining now just shows that food producers are keen to cash in on the Swissness bonus but want to leave everything as it was,” remarks the head of the Consumer Protection Foundation (SKS). The industry has had enough time to adapt to the changes or to apply for exemptions. The Federal Office for Agriculture also rejects the claims: “The consequences of the Swissness law are being overdramatised,” says Vice-Director Dominique Kohli. He is unaware of any company forced to make job cuts as a result so far.

Matthias Pfander is business editor at the “Tages-Anzeiger”

The new Swissness regulations

When can a product be marketed as Swiss?

Natural products: For minerals (such as salt), plants, fruit, game and fish, the place of extraction, harvest or hunting is the decisive factor. In the case of meat from the rearing of livestock, the animals must have spent most of their lives in Switzerland. With animal products, such as eggs, milk and honey, the animals must be kept in Switzerland.

Food products: At least 80 % of the weight must be made up of raw materials from Switzerland and the main processing stages must take place here. If an ingredient is not available in Switzerland – such as cacao or pineapple – or not to the required quality standard or in sufficient quantity, it is excluded or only partially taken into account. Low quantities of additives, such as salt, herbs and yeast, are not included. Federal government has also provisionally approved 58 exemptions, including candy sugar and protein powder.

Industrial products: 60 % of manufacturing costs (such as with watches) must be incurred in Switzerland and the main manufacturing stages must take place here. The costs of research and development, quality assurance and certification are also taken into account.

Services: With regard to services, the provider must have its administrative headquarters in Switzerland and also carry out its main activities here. (map)

Comments (37)
  1. Kati. Lyon-Villiger,  Canada Kati. Lyon-Villiger, Canada at 17.03.2017
    That is great. Absolutely wonderful. Now to ensure Swissness completely, let us add that at least 51% of the Board of Directors must be Swiss as well. You can increase your board in numbers to get to the right proportions. Look at German and Swedish boards. Not that we need to emulate them, but in this instance, they have got it right. HOP SCHWYZ! REACH FOR THE STARS!
    1. Georg Vyskocil, Prag Georg Vyskocil, Prag at 18.03.2017
      Anstatt lang und breit über swiss-made zu schreiben, führt für CH Pensionierte Minimalbetrag von CHF 2500/Monat ein. Solche Geste wird garantiert niemand als Originalzeichen bezweifeln und was noch wichtiger, übertreffen. Everything else is nothing but a rat race.
    2. Roger Ruppanner Roger Ruppanner at 10.04.2017
      Je suis 25% italien; est-ce que je vais pouvoir garder mon passeport suisse?
    3. Natalie Natalie at 18.07.2017
      Roger: I don't think Kati is questioning the definition of Swiss nationality...you have a Swiss passport, so you would be deemed a valuable member of a Swiss Board of Directors, certainly!
  2. Peter Kuederli Peter Kuederli at 17.03.2017
    Dann entfernt endlich den Namenszug SWISS und das Schweizerkreuz von der Lufthansatochter. Wir brauchen dieses schlechte Image nicht. Auch die neue Lounge welche fuer X Millionen gebaut wird in Zuerich brauchen wir nicht, so lassen wir uns naemlich genausowenig kaufen, wie man Freunde nicht kaufen kann.
    1. Charlotte Woerner Charlotte Woerner at 18.03.2017
      Das ist nun einmal ein Wort! Das sollte einer vor Gericht durchsetzen, muesste durchkommen beim neuen Swissness-Flaeggli Gesetz oder man widersprich sich und alle koennen weiterfahren wie bisher - die SWISS wird weiterhin weltweit anlanden mit dem helvetischen Kreuz bemalt - aber der Grosse Kanton drin! Ein Luxemburgerli made in Zuerich - haha
    2. U. Rauen U. Rauen at 19.03.2017
      Ich bin total einverstanden , dass die swissairline nichts mit der Schweiz zu tun hat. Mit einem deutschen Besitzer sollte das Wort Swiss nicht erlaubt sein. Das einzige schweizerische bei dieser Fluggesellschaft ist ( mit viel Glueck ) ab und zu auf ein schweizer Crewmitglied zu treffen . Die Qualitaet dieser Fluggesellschaft ist leider zu ca. 80% deutsch. Es waere schoen , wenn unser Land wieder eine Airline haette die des Schweizer Namens wuerdig waere.
    3. Peter Siegenthaler Peter Siegenthaler at 19.03.2017
      Bemerkenswerterweise wurde der Swissair vom Departement Leuenberger verboten, die Winglets der MD-11 mit dem Schweizerkreuz zu bemalen weil sie "keine staatliche Fluglinie" war.
  3. Wilfried Gsell Canada Wilfried Gsell Canada at 17.03.2017
    Super , hoch lebe die Bürokratie , es scheint ja auf der ganzen Welt kaum mehr etwas richtig zu funktionieren ohne das es für alles einen extra Angestellten braucht.
    Es werden Berichte erstellt , kontrolliert , Sitzungen abgehalten und neuen Weisungen vom Staat verfolgt .Die anfallenden Mehrkosten der produzierenden Firmen verteilen sich dann elegant und fast unmerklich auf den Verbraucher.
    Mein Unmut kommt nicht von ungefähr , ich lernte in einer Gross Schweizer Firma mit 1000 Bürolisten / 2000 Arbeiter welche erwartungsgemäss bald unter gegangen ist. Vor meiner Pensionierung in einem Schweizer Staats Betrieb welcher in den 80er Jahren mit 20 Angestellten perfekt funktionierte arbeiten unterdessen mit dem gleichen Auftrag Volumen gegen 50 Angestellte.
    ( Umständliche Anforderungen und Hürden )wie in Ihrem Bericht oben zitiert !
  4. A. Bachmann A. Bachmann at 18.03.2017
    What about all the products that use the Swiss flag worldwide and especially in the USA? All these products make use of our Swiss flag with absolutely no relation to Switzerland at all. I see shampoo bottles and liquid soap and many other cosmetic products including also food products In stores here in the USA in stores often, even first aid kits that accidentally use a white instead of red cross, and so on. I doubt any of these products have even close to 80% Swiss ingredients and they all profit from the Swiis (quality reflecting) logo. Anybody going to go after those non swiss companies??
    1. Theresa Anacker Theresa Anacker at 19.03.2017
      Well stated! "Swiss Ice Tea" is an example. There is nothing Swiss about ice tea! Companies are using the word "Swiss" like they use the word "artisan". Just another advertising strategy to infer integrity of their product. The legislation would need to apply globally to have any effect. Forcing compliance on Switzerland alone seems like a costly, bureaucratic nightmare!
    2. Witschi Witschi at 19.03.2017
      After living in the US for 30 years, I can assure you that 98% of all Americans could not pick out CH on a map, and are even less aware of any Swiss-cross to quality relationship. Never mind that a fair amount of 'quality' in Swiss products is just as much a result of constant media marketing and does not hold up when looked at a bit closer.
    3. Bob Martinek Bob Martinek at 19.03.2017
      Seems to me that Switzerland will experience some unintended consequences from this law. Swiss companies without enough content that drop the flag is tantamount to Switzerland losing exposure to the world. Artificial shortages will drive up Swiss prices making their products un-affordable in foreign markets.
    4. Sylvette Lau Sylvette Lau at 26.03.2017
      All these comments are SO right! And what about the first care or medical outfits that use the SWISS flag instead of the "red cross". on life guard T-shirts, first aid kits etc. Either they are ignorant and stupid or... they do it on purpose and Switzerland should object to that use.
    5. Verena Zbinden Verena Zbinden at 20.04.2017
      Congratulations! What about all the Emergency Rooms and Hospitals in the United States that are using the Swiss Cross. Let's start there! Verena, Texas
    6. Verena Zbinden Verena Zbinden at 20.04.2017
      Congratulations! What about all the Emergency Rooms and Hospitals in the United States that are using the Swiss Cross. Let's start there! Verena, Texas
  5. A. Bachmann A. Bachmann at 18.03.2017
    What about all the products that use the Swiss flag worldwide and especially in the USA? All these products make use of our Swiss flag with absolutely no relation to Switzerland at all. I see shampoo bottles and liquid soap and many other cosmetic products including also food products In stores here in the USA in stores often, even first aid kits that accidentally use a white instead of red cross, and so on. I doubt any of these products have even close to 80% Swiss ingredients and they all profit from the Swiis (quality reflecting) logo. Anybody going to go after those non swiss companies??
    1. Debbie Schoenberger Debbie Schoenberger at 20.03.2017
      I think that's a great idea. For years I've been incensed that American companies use the word "Swiss" on products that aren't Swiss. A lit of those products are inferior.
    2. Debbie Schoenberger Debbie Schoenberger at 20.03.2017
      I think that's a great idea. For years I've been incensed that American companies use the word "Swiss" on products that aren't Swiss. A lit of those products are inferior.
    3. Nick Nick at 20.03.2017
      Dann sollte man wohl auch die Unsitte anprangern, dass bei vielen Erste Hilfe Stellen ein Schild mit weissem Kreuz auf rot an Stelle von rotem Kreuz auf weiss ausgehängt ist.
      Wenn die Schweizer Flagge international geschützt ist, dann sollte man gegen die kommerziellen Sünder vorgehen können. Dazu brauchen wir eine zentrale Meldestelle, wo man Bilder einschicken kann.
  6. Walter S UK Walter S UK at 18.03.2017
    Finally a statement - thanks to all politicians and people how helped putting this in place. It will expose the companies with little real swiss spirit.
  7. Hans-Peter Senn Hans-Peter Senn at 18.03.2017
    A.Bachmann hat recht wegen der Schweizerfahne und dem Namen "SWISS"die für alles gebraucht werden ,vom in Wisconsin gemachtem Käse bis zur Chemischen Reinigung!!
    Komischerweise lässt man dies zu weil man wohl angst hat dem "Grossen Bruder" auf den Nerf zu treten!!
    Aber als Schweizer der schon 32 Jahre in den USA lebt und 49 Jahre für eine "echte"Schweizer Firma gearbeitet hat ist es oft mühsam zu sehen mit was für welchen S,,,,,produkten unser Schweizerkreuz und der Name SWISS in Verbindung gebracht wird.
    1. Evelyn Eugster Evelyn Eugster at 24.03.2017
      Just a thought from a Swiss Canadian - Expand to establish and publish lists of international products bearing some component of Swiss input. Become a high quality standardization office that can award approval. Subscribers can seek and purchase quality products and earn points, give feedback, create communities of fund raising initiatives - all based on increasing the traditional merits.
  8. Nancy Nancy at 18.03.2017
    Yes, St. Ives lotions and face products say they are made in Geneva. I returned to live in Geneva for 18 years - never could find the factory there.
  9. LEON DOSSE LEON DOSSE at 18.03.2017
    ......und die Chinesen werden weiterhin Produkte mit Schweizerkreuz und Swiss produzieren
    1. Jörn W. Malek Jörn W. Malek at 19.03.2017
      Hier in Costa Rica hat jemand von der Botschaft Victorynox Sackmesser, identisch mit Schweizerkreuz, in einem grossen Baustoffanbieter mit Namen EPA gefunden, welche alle in China hergestellt wurden. Wie wollen die Gesetzgeber soetwas in über 200 Ländern der Welt kontrollieren? Die Schweizer Botschaft hier erreichte auf jeden Fall, dass die Messer aus dem Geschäft entfernt wurden. Vermulich werden sie jetzt in einer Filiale in Venezuela oder Uruguay verkauft, oder in einem Land wo es keine Schweizer Botschaft gibt. Auf alle Fälle viel Glück beim durchsetzen dieses Gesetzes.

      Es kommt mir ähnlich vor wie hier in Costa Rica die Geschwindigkeits-Vorschriften auf der Autobahn. Alle fahren so schnell sie wollen, denn erwischt zu werden ist so selten wie ein Los in der Lotterie zu gewinnen. Ich nehme an, die Polizei hier benützt vielleicht einmal pro Woche eine der wenigen Radar-Pistolen die sie besitzen.

      Als Schweizer hier im Ausland, fällt uns eventuell auf, dass der Gegenstand nicht in der Schweiz hergestellt wurde, aber ein Nichtschweizer, weiss zum Teil nicht einmal was das Schweizerkreuz bedeutet. Wenn sie im Süden von den USA Benzin tanken und der Schwarze, welche das Benzin einfüllt fragt, woher du kommst, und du sagst "from Switzerland", wird er vermutlich antworten: "Oh, that's in New Mexicio, right". Vermutlich kann er gar nicht lesen.

      Also viel Glück mit dem neuen Gestetz. Hier in Costa Rica, wenn jemand etwas dummes macht, sagt man: "Para tonto no hay que estudiar" oder auf Deutsch: Um dumm zu sein muss man nicht studieren. Das Gesetz hat sicher eine gute Absicht, und wie man sagt, zählt ja diese. Dass es nicht kontrollierbar ist, ist jedoch dumm.
    2. Peter Siegenthaler Peter Siegenthaler at 19.03.2017
      Bin ja gespannt ob Wenger das Schweizerkreuz von deren "Swiss Gear" Gepäckstücken, welche alle Made in China sind, entfernt. Wohl kaum, da diese ja u.A. hier in Nordamerika angeboten werden, wo Swissnessgesetze wenig Wirkung haben.
  10. Norbert Norbert at 19.03.2017
    ... klasse, eine andere Art des Protektionismus. Clever gemacht. Die USA und Mr. Trump werden sich fragen "verdammt warum sind wir noch nicht darauf gekommen".
    1. Erwin Balli-Ramos Erwin Balli-Ramos at 19.03.2017
      Sehr geehrter Herr Norbert
      Die USA und damit auch Trump werden sich diese Fragen wohl nie stellen, weil schon allein diese nie auf so etwas kommen würden. Mehr noch, die Qualität ihrer Produkte können Sie auch mit wer weiss was für einen Verpackungs-Aufdruck verbessern.
  11. Helene Walton Helene Walton at 19.03.2017
    I see both sides, however, we do not live in an insular world. I find the new Swissness regulations a little extreme. What will this do the availability and the cost of the products? We are all interdependent when it comes to world trade. Switzerland cannot live in a bubble or we will all feel the economic repercussions.
    I agree that products with any Swiss designation need to have high standards of quality control but not to the detriment of Swiss manufacturers and the economy.
  12. Magnus Kilian Magnus Kilian at 19.03.2017
    Protectionism is not a very good idea, and that is what this law enshrines. "Made in Switzerland" always was a good recommendation for high quality items, whether the materials used were of indigenous origin or the product manufactured from imported items. Much more problematic however, is the loss of Swiss identity and colloquial language. I have lived in Canada for sixty years and have come back to Switzerland for visits more often than I can remember. Somehow many parts of Swiss towns and cities now look very much like North American ones, especially when it comes to the names of shops. as well as that, the language is rapidly changing from Swiss German Dialects, French, Italian or Romantsch to English expressions. One used to go "Einkaufen", now one goes "shopping". What used to be the "Fliegertruppen" is now the Swiss Airforce and "Swisspost" is an expression that describes a "Schweizer Pfahl", whatever that is supposed to be. Protecting, to a certain degree, one country's manufacturing industry is laudable, providing one is aware of the global interdependence in commerce. however, protecting one's country's unique identity is much more important, at least in my opinion.
  13. r graf r graf at 20.03.2017
    Why dont you guys pull your heads out of your asses and smell the coffee
  14. PHOSITA PHOSITA at 22.03.2017
    This is an excellent development.
    The Swiss label stands for quality worldwide, even at a subconscious level among consumers who know nothing about Switzerland. Since companies abuse the brand and dilute it, it is necessary to protect and strengthen it, and the only way to achieve that is through enforcing standards.
    It is important to remember that this act not only protects Swiss industries, it also protects consumers by improving transparency with regards to the origin and practices used in preparing the products and services we buy.
    Companies that can no longer use the Swiss label due to not meeting the standards of the Swissness Act, are not discriminated against. They can still protect their brands with trademarks and customer satisfaction.
  15. PHOSITA PHOSITA at 22.03.2017
    This is an excellent development.
    The Swiss label stands for quality worldwide, even at a subconscious level among consumers who know nothing about Switzerland. Since companies abuse the brand and dilute it, it is necessary to protect and strengthen it, and the only way to achieve that is through enforcing standards.
    It is important to remember that this act not only protects Swiss industries, it also protects consumers by improving transparency with regards to the origin and practices used in preparing the products and services we buy.
    Companies that can no longer use the Swiss label due to not meeting the standards of the Swissness Act, are not discriminated against. They can still protect their brands with trademarks and customer satisfaction.
  16. Kurt Müller Kurt Müller at 23.03.2017
    Heisst das jetzt das es ab sofort keine Schweizer Schokolade mehr gibt? Speziell keine mit 80% Kakao? Oder muss die Schweiz jetzt Kakaobäume pflanzen, möglichst gentechnisch dem hiesigen Klima angepasst?
    1. ER ER at 04.04.2017
      Tja... es fehlt einfach an normalen Menschenverstand... alles sehr wischiwaschi und diejenigen die einfach beste Qualität liefern sind nun bestraft... und die bauernschlauen die da meinen andere über den Tisch zu ziehen mit Unwahrheiten markten, denen kommt man noch entgegen.... Die Verwaltungen sind zu gross und zu bequem und sind mehr und mehr nur an ihrer eigenen Tasche interessiert ....
  17. Natalie Natalie at 18.07.2017
    What I appreciate about these new regulations are the conversations food manufacturers are needing to have around the merits of choosing local resources over distant ones, from an ecological point of view. For example, why is my relish in Canada made in India? It's not like we don't have cucumbers here! What a waste of greenhouse gases!

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