Swiss confectionery and baked goods markets expand, despite regulatory pressures

The Biscosuisse organisation, representing Swiss confectionery and bakery sectors, has reported a 32.6% upturn in exports during 2022, despite the impact of manufacturing regulations challenges, writes Neill Barston.

As the group explained, the country has experienced pressure on its imports in relation to its domestic market, following several years of downturn in performance amid the pandemic that had produced a sharp performance decline.

According to Biscosuisse, there had been ‘a challenging environment’ for the confectionery and long-life baked goods manufacturing segments, but the improving picture for exports had been welcomed by the industry.

As the organisation noted, market, however. Regulatory requirements put Switzerland at a disadvantage as a manufacturing nation – which has been seen with the case last week of Toblerone having to change its longstanding logos which require products to be 80% made within the country to be classed as Swiss, with the brand set to shift some of its production to Slovakia later this year.

According to Biscosuisse, confectionery goods sold in 2022 rose by 32.6% compared to the previous year. The export share rose from 82.0% to 85.6%. Exports to the USA in particular grew strongly. More imported goods were consumed in the domestic market last year: while the sales volume of Swiss products increased by 5.6% compared to the previous year, the import volume also rose – by 13.6%. The import share rose to 81.8%, up from 76.7% prior to the pandemic (2019).

As the organisation noted with some concern, during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, the total turnover of Swiss confectionery manufacturers fell by around a quarter. This slump was largely reversed in 2022 (+28.0% compared to the previous year). However, sales in the sector remain 2.1% below pre-pandemic levels (2019).

Furthermore, sales of Swiss long-life baked goods in 2022 fell by 1.5%, while the turnover of the sector rose by 3.4%. The
domestic market share of long-life baked goods is significantly higher than the export share.

However, import pressure is also high, amounting e.g. to 58.5% for biscuits in 2022. Imports of biscuits have increased by 11.8% since 2019. Domestic sales of Swiss long-life baked goods compared to 2021 recorded a slight decrease (-2.1%) against a
slight increase in value (+2.5%).

Although the export business in the Swiss long-life baked goods segment has lessened in importance over the last decade and declined in 2020 due to the pandemic, the previous year’s positive trend continued in 2022 (+1.0% in volume and +7.8% in value).

As the organisation added, “the environment in which the sector holds its own thanks to entrepreneurial flair is not easy. In addition to the turbulence of procurement markets, statutory declaration regulations with “Swiss Finish” were, and remain, an obstacle.

“Such obstacles must be removed as part of the ongoing revision of food legislation. Furthermore, the country’s
agricultural border protection pushes up the price of important raw materials. This makes it all the more important to
maintain mechanisms that compensate for this disadvantage (at least partially) until the advent of market liberalisation.
Restrictive regulations, such as those dictating the maximum sugar content of products manufactured in this country,
would place an additional burden on Swiss companies in the international market.”

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