Don’t hoard – Switzerland has emergency supplies

The slogan “We advise – emergency supplies” dates from the post-War period and with the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic has become unexpectedly topical. Suddenly, the question of emergency supplies is again a key issue in Switzerland. This seems to be triggering panic-buying, which has led to gaping voids on the pasta and rice shelves and in canned goods sections. Demand for staple and non-perishable goods is rising because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Swiss are stocking up with emergency supplies for the worst-case scenario.

There is a secure supply of food for the population

But for the moment, there is no question of shortages. There is nothing to prevent retailers providing sufficient food. There may be “empty” shelves here and there, wherever local demand exceeds in-store stocks.

And for emergencies, Switzerland has well-filled, mandatory storage facilities with basic foodstuffs. These mandatory stocks of vital foodstuffs correspond to 3-4 months’ worth of needs. These stocks are only released, however, when the economy itself is no longer able to satisfy demand. And in Switzerland, this is not the case at the moment.

The Federal Government controls the emergency stocks. The authorisation to release mandatory stocks is issued by the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER). This it does in close collaboration with the Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES) and the National Economic Supply organisation (NES).