Global food availability is expected to remain stable in the medium term. Food security challenges in Switzerland include the decline in agricultural land area per capita, higher incidence of extreme weather events and increased pressure from pests.
Switzerland depends on imported food products and production inputs, as around half of the calories it needs have to be imported. Due to this situation, global events and trends can affect the country’s food security. For this reason, Agroscope publishes an annual report on Switzerland’s security of supply on behalf of the Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES). The report is based on data and literature analyses as well as a survey of experts from the FONES Foodstuffs Division.
Global price trends for food and energy
The report illustrates the situation as at mid-2023. Prices at a global level for some food products such as oils, cereals, milk and meat have fallen back to pre-Ukraine war levels following sharp rises from mid-2020. Energy prices, on the other hand, remain high, with effects such as rising food prices within the European Union (EU). Although Switzerland was less affected by inflation, food prices rose here too. Despite periods of extreme heat, food supplies in both the EU and Switzerland remained secure up to mid-2023.
Stable global supply thanks to rising production
The globally available agricultural area per capita is declining due to population growth. Global food production continues to rise, however, so supply on the world market can be assessed as stable, at least in the short to medium term – provided that agricultural production inputs such as seeds and energy remain constantly available and yield losses due to increasing extreme weather events such as heat and drought can be contained.
Switzerland: declining agricultural area poses a challenge
The agricultural area per capita is declining in Switzerland too. This decline in available agricultural land per capita, together with a higher incidence of extreme weather events and the spread of pests, is one of the greatest challenges currently facing Swiss food security. The FONES experts therefore consider it important to practise sustainable use of available resources such as land, water and energy. They also consider it essential to research and effectively implement adaptation and mitigation measures. The breeding of crops resistant to drought, diseases and pests has a key role to play in this. In the event of a sharp shock to food security, such as a pest attack, chemical crop protection products should also remain an option to safeguard yields.
- The decrease in agricultural land area per capita, higher incidence of extreme weather events and the need to protect crops against pests are among the greatest challenges for agricultural production and thus for long-term food security in Switzerland.
- Besides specific crisis-related measures such as compulsory stockpiling, key measures include precautions to ensure the necessary supply of production inputs at all stages of the value chain, stable trade relations and monitoring systems for early identification of threats.
- At the same time, it remains essential for private industry and the public to take personal responsibility, for example by reducing avoidable food waste or by maintaining emergency supplies for short-term supply shortages (e.g. power cuts).