With increasingly industrial production and processing, food has more and more the character of a credence good. These are goods whose quality criteria can not be evaluated by the consumers themselves, but only by experts. Even with full declaration and labelling of foodstuff, consumers need the judgements of experts to take advantage of this information. Studies on risk communications reveal an important gap between the judgement of experts and the perceptions of laypeople. This is especially true for food-related hazards, which are perceived to be very risky. Additionally benefits of technologies in the food sector are perceived to be small in affluent societies. The acceptance of innovations in the Swiss food sector will therefore depend on trust-building measures within the food sector like quality control and labelling as well as on communication of benefits for the consumers with regard to the important aspects of health and convenience. However, the majority of Swiss consumers prefer food to be natural, an attitude which may hamper the breakthrough of some modern technologies.
To balance their nutrient cycles, Swiss farms export surplus farmyard manure to farms with free uptake capacities or to composting and anaerobic digestion facilities. Between 2015 and 2020 the volumes of organic manure and recycled fertilisers transported rose significantly, with a consequent increase in transport costs.
Employment in the agricultural sector is declining in many European countries, especially in livestock farming. Direct payments can counter this trend and lead to the employment of more – especially female – family members on the farm.
Despite the current challenges of e.g. the war in Ukraine and climate change, the Swiss food sector is relatively resilient. This is the conclusion reached by Agroscope’s report on behalf of the Swiss Federal Office for National Economic Supply.