réservesuisse genossenschaft

The réservesuisse genossenschaft is a self-help organisation of the private sector to organise compulsory stockpiling of food and animal feed in the interests of national economic supply. As a cooperative, it also carries out tasks assigned to it by the federal government in connection with compulsory stockpiling and represents the interests of its members in the organisation of national economic supply.

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].

The organisation of compulsory stockpiles in the course of time

1848

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

1870/71

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

1892

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.

1914

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.

1917-1918

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.

1929

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

1937

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

1939-1948

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.

1951

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

1953

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

1955

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.

1973

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.

1982

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.

1989

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.

2016

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.

About the cooperative

Reservesuisse shall protect its members against financial losses arising from price risk during the period of contractual storage and shall provide adequate compensation for the costs associated with compulsory stockholding. It protects its members against uninsurable risks that are not covered by the Federal Government or third parties, insofar as they arise during the period of contractual storage on the compulsory stocks.

Foodstuffs that are subject to compulsory stockpiling to ensure the country’s supply require an import permit, the so-called general import permit. On behalf of the Confederation, réservesuisse manages both the import licences and the guarantee funds. To this end, it collects guarantee fund contributions which it uses to cover storage costs and to offset price risks on compulsory stockpile goods.

The réservesuisse represents the link between the private sector and the authorities. It represents the interests of its members in the organisation of national economic supply and provides information on the supply situation of their stored goods. On behalf of the Confederation, it also monitors the stocks of compulsory stockholders in terms of both quality and quantity.

The origins of réservesuisse

1948

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

1949

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

1996

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).

2003

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

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