Swiss Government Says Coffee 'Not Essential', Stockpiling to End

Yesterday Switzerland announced plans to abolish the nation's emergency stockpile of coffee, in place for decades, after declaring the beans not vital for human survival, though opposition to the proposal is brewing.

Nestle, the maker of instant coffee Nescafe, and other importers, roasters and retailers are required by Swiss law to store bags of raw coffee. The country stockpiles other staples, too, such as sugar, rice, edible oils and animal feed.

This system of emergency reserves was established between World War I and World War II as Switzerland prepared for any potential shortages in case of war, natural disaster or epidemics.

According to the plan released for public comment, coffee-stockpiling obligations would expire by the end of 2022, with companies free to draw down what they store in their warehouses.

"The Federal Office for National Economic Supply has concluded coffee...is not essential for life," the government said. "Coffee has almost no calories and subsequently does not contribute, from the physiological perspective, to safeguarding nutrition."

A final decision on scrapping coffee stockpiles is expected in November.

Switzerland's 8.5 million residents consume around nine kg (20 lb) of coffee per person annually, eclipsing Britain's 3.3 kg average and double the 4.5 kg consumed in the United States, according to International Coffee Organization figures.

Charlie Munson

Charlie Munson

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