réservesuisse genossenschaft

The réservesuisse genossenschaft is a self-help organisation operating in the private sector. Its members are all organisations that are obliged, under the terms of Switzerland’s national economic supply legislation (National Economic Supply Act, NESA), to hold mandatory stocks of food and feedstuffs. The réservesuisse genossenschaft also represents its members’ interests vis-à-vis the Swiss federal authorities and other institutions.

The history of national economic supply

Historically, the history of national economic supply is closely linked to the history of the federal state. For this reason it is not surprising that the federal government’s assessment of the supply situation can be placed in direct relation to the conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries. The shift in priorities from war-related supply shortages to severe shortages must be viewed within the same context. The ever-increasing networking of the economy in the course of globalisation and the high dynamics of modern supply processes require an increasingly rapid response to disruptions. Disruptions, i.e. real threats, are defined as climate change with an increasing number of negative environmental events, epidemics, trade conflicts and their effects on the increasingly complex supply chains. They are now the focus of national economic provision.

Below is a series of events that represent key data on national economic provision and its organisation at the federal level [1].

Milestones of supply policy


During the founding period of the Swiss federal state, the provision of utilities became largely the responsibility of the private sector.


During the Franco-Prussian War, import and transport problems occurred for the first time for the relatively new federal state.


In the event of war, the Federal Military Administration buys grain to feed the troops and civilian population. This is the state’s first state storage facility.


The outbreak of the First World War hits Switzerland largely unprepared. The Federal Council directly or indirectly controls large parts of foreign trade. Food imports are partly handled by the military administration.


The supply situation is getting considerably worse. The Federal Council is not succeeding in ensuring satisfactory coverage of the population. It comes to the national strike which lasts from 12 to 14 November 1918. The Federal War Food Office is established as the first civilian supply authority.


For the first time, the economy, i.e. mills, are obliged by the federal government to maintain private compulsory grain storage facilities.


Start of preparations for the war economy and formation of a corresponding shadow organisation.


At the outbreak of the Second World War, the Confederation is prepared. Far-reaching powers enable the Federal Council to intervene in economic policy, enabling it to ensure the majority of the country’s economic supply. This is followed by the establishment of a new shadow organisation in the event of another war.


The Korean decision allows the Confederation to take supply measures even in cases where Switzerland is not directly threatened by war.


The Navigation Act allows the Confederation to requisition or purchase Swiss deep-sea vessels for national supply.


With the Federal Act on Economic War Provisions, the Confederation enacts the first comprehensive pension law in Switzerland. Among other things, it also regulates compulsory stockpiling.


The artificial scarcity and boycott threats of the OPEC states lead to the oil crisis. The Federal Council reacts with Sunday driving bans and other measures. However, the supply of petroleum products is never interrupted.


Adopt the Law on State Supply. In addition to the risk of war, the federal government will now be able to intervene in supply policy on a subsidiary basis in the event of threats to power politics and serious shortages. Compulsory stockpiling remains the Confederation’s most important supply measure.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, the inner-German border fell. This event changed the geopolitical face of Europe and also had a direct impact on the assessment of the supply situation in Switzerland. In the following years, the number of goods as well as the quantity of compulsory stockpiles is greatly reduced.


With the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, the inner-German border fell. This event changed the geopolitical face of Europe and also had a direct impact on the assessment of the supply situation in Switzerland. In the following years, the number of goods as well as the quantity of compulsory stockpiles is greatly reduced.


The Federal Assembly passes the totally revised Federal Act on National Economic Supply. This creates the foundations for strengthening the resilience of companies, with the aim of ensuring that production, processing and supply are maintained. In addition, the efficiency of the measures will be increased. Even after the revision of the law, compulsory stockpiling remains the Confederation’s most important supply measure.

Duties of the Cooperative

The réservesuisse genossenschaft likewise provides services relating to the import, storage and processing of food and feed products that are subject to NESA rules. The réservesuisse genossenschaft contributes to the reliability of supplies in Switzerland, via its member-organisations – and in the event of bottlenecks affecting the reliability of supplies to Switzerland’s population – by helping to ensure that trade runs smoothly and that food and feedstuffs are stored in a systematic way. Acting on behalf of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), réservesuisse also issues general import licenses to importers and keeps track of mandatory stocks.

The réservesuisse genossenschaft manages, likewise on behalf of the Swiss Federal Government, the guarantee funds used to finance the required warehousing capacity. These targeted special private investment funds compensate member-organisations for their storage costs, while also helping to balance fluctuating prices against mandatory stocking requirements. Supervision of the proper use of guarantee funds, as well as of their procurement management by réservesuisse, is the responsibility of the Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES).

The Cooperative’s origins


Foundation of the Swiss Sugar Importers’ Trust Agency as a self-help organisation for the industry.


Transformation into the Trust Agency of Swiss Food Importers (TSL) with compulsory stocks of sugar, rice, fatty substances and coffee.


Abolition of the Swiss Cereals and Animal Feed Cooperative (GGF). The roots of the GGF go back to 1932. Establishment of the Trust Office of the Swiss Compulsory Grain Stockholders (TSG).


Foundation of the réservesuisse cooperative as a merger of TSL and TSG.


idée coopérative (cooperative initiative)
The Réservesuisse Cooperative is a member of “idée coopérative”, the centre of competence for Swiss cooperative organisations.

Information platform for the early detection of drought
The navigability of the River Rhine is a critical factor to consider when assessing the reliability of Switzerland’s supply routes. The website  drought.ch provides an information platform for the early detection of drought in Switzerland.

In the legal bases section, the main documents containing the exact legal provisions are listed.

[1] Cottier Maurice (2014): Liberalismus oder Staatsintervention, Die Geschichte der Versorgungspolitik im Schweizer Bundesstaat, Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zürich