For many of us, drinking a hot cup of coffee is something we look forward to every single day. For many, it’s part of our day to day routine, some would even argue that it’s a life changing step in waking up in the morning. But, in Switzerland, it has been deemed unnecessary. Not for, like, everyday life, but Switzerland plans to remove coffee from the emergency stockpile of food in the country, as reported by USA Today.
The national stockpile has existed since the time between the First and Second World War, so the country would be prepared in case of an emergency. But now, the Swiss Federal Council has decided to remove coffee from the reserves. Per USA Today, The Federal Council shared in a press release that it “came to the conclusion that coffee is not essential for life according to today’s criteria. The statement went on to clarify, “That is, coffee contains almost no calories and therefore does not make any contribution to food security from a nutritional point of view.” The statement also notes that the risk of a coffee supply disruption is low, because the product is grown over three continents and harvested year-round.
USA Today reports that if the proposal to remove coffee from the stockpiles “survives a period of public comment” the stockpiling will end in 2022. Currently, Swiss law requires that importers and roasters of coffee stockpile raw beans, according to Reuters. The current stockpile is spread between 15 companies and is a total of 15,300 tons, or enough coffee to sustain the country’s current drinking habits for three months. In addition to coffee, Switzerland also stockpiles rice, animal feed, sugar, and edible oils.
Not everyone wants to see the Swiss strategic coffee reserve disappear, however. Reservesuisse, the Bern-based organisation that oversees Switzerland’s food stockpiles, last year asked the Federal Office to reconsider its recommendation. Of the 15 companies that hold mandatory coffee stockpiles, Reservesuisse said, 12 wanted to continue, in part, because the existing system helps buttress the supply chain. Some also contend too little attention was paid to the drink’s health benefits, like antioxidants or vitamins.
“Stockpile operators’ concerns clearly show that the one-sided review and weighting of calories as the main criteria for a vital staple did not do justice to coffee,” Reservesuisse wrote in a letter seen by Reuters. A Nestle spokeswoman declined to comment on its position. In the event the mandatory stockpile is eliminated, the government said it expects importers that are freed from the fee to pass on any savings to coffee consumers.
Currently, the Swiss government requires major coffee importing, roasting, and retailing businesses, currently a group of 15 companies including Nestlé, to maintain the stockpile, which is equal to a roughly three-month supply for the coffee-loving nation. The companies are reimbursed for storage costs through import fees of 3.75 Swiss francs per 100kg of coffee beans.
A final vote on the motion to reduce Swiss coffee stores is expected in November, preferably after all the decision makers have been properly caffeinated.
This whole topic is pretty hard to wrap your mind around — three months worth of coffee for 8.4 million people? To put it into perspective, the Swiss are big fans of coffee who end up consuming about 9kg (20lb) per person per year, according to the International Coffee Organisation. This is almost triple that consumed in Britain, where 3.3kg per person per year is consumed.