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Switzerland may stop stockpiling coffee

The Swiss government may abolish laws requiring the nation to keep stockpiles of coffee, with the Federal Office for National Economic Supply declaring it is not vital for human survival.

Under current laws, importers, roasters, and retailers are required to store bags of raw coffee in case of emergency. This includes Nestle, the world’s largest coffee buyer and roaster.

“The national economic supply has checked the maintenance of today's compulsory storage of coffee [and] came to the conclusion that coffee is not vital according to the criteria that apply today,” the government says in a press release.

“Coffee contains almost no calories and therefore does not make any contribution to food security from a nutritional point of view.

“The risk of supply disruptions is also rated as low. The growing areas are spread over three continents and the harvests are possible all year round. The continuation of the compulsory storage of coffee is therefore no longer justified from a supply policy perspective.”

In Switzerland, the annual per capita consumption corresponds to about nine kilograms of green coffee. The government says this is one of the highest in the world in terms of quantity and value.

Currently, 15 Swiss companies stockpile coffee totalling 15,300 tonnes of green coffee. The compulsory warehouses cover around three months of the average annual normal consumption of coffee in Switzerland.

In addition, traders, roasters, and wholesalers hold free operating inventories of raw and finished coffee, including freeze-dried soluble coffee and other processing products, of a approximately 16,800 tonnes as of the end of 2017. The free supplies also cover the need for about three months.

Reservesuisse, the Bern-based company overseeing Switzerland’s stockpiles told Reuters that 12 of the 15 companies wanted to continue holding the mandatory coffee stockpiles. They said the system supports the supply chain and coffee’s health benefits beyond caloric intake had not been considered.

If the proposal succeeds, importers will no longer have to stockpile coffee after 2022.

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