Starting from January 1, 2017 a new legislation on source of origin and geographical indications will enter into force in Switzerland. This is a new Implementing ordinance that is regulating how products can be labeled, in relation to the geographic origin of their ingredients. The ordinance was adopted December 2 and is now referred to as the Swissness Law.
In 2014 Swiss Federal Council launched a public consultation in order to strengthen the protection of the “Made in Switzerland” mark, or the famous Swiss cross.
What are the new requirements that the product will have to comply with to be able to have a Swiss cross on the label?
According to the new regulation, at least 80% of a product’s raw material net weight should come from Switzerland.
To decide whether a raw material is compliant with this requirement, several points are to be taken into consideration.
The key decision point is the rate of self-provision for natural products.
This is defined by the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) based on the average degree of self-supply during three consecutive years, within the country.
The ‘rate of self-provision’ is defined as “the proportion of internal production vs internal consumption”. The internal consumption is the sum of internal productions and imports of raw materials less the changes of the stocks.
If this rate is below 20%, then this could be ignored in the calculation, while if it is between 20 and 50 %, it should be considered at 50%, while if it is over 50% it should be considered at all.
For example, if in a recipe a producer is using hazelnuts/cobnuts - for which the rate of self-supply has been determined at <5% - these can be ignored from the Swissness calculation. However, if a producer is using 2 grams of strawberries - which have 30.6% of rate of self-supply - for the purpose of the calculation it should be considered as 1 gram. And finally, if 1 kg of wheat flour is used in the production (whose rate is >50%), it should be considered in full, or as 1 kg coming from Switzerland.
There are some natural products which have been exempted from this rule, for different reasons:
- Coffee, cocoa, pineapple, avocado, and other ingredients that cannot be produced in Switzerland.
- Natural products which are temporary unavailable due to crop failure.
- Ingredients which are not relevant in the consideration of the weight (e.g. minimum quantities of additives, spices, yeasts and concentrated lemon juice)
If a recipe is composed also by an intermediate product, this should be considered in the calculation at 80%. If not it should be included in all it components.
For instance, if an industry it’s creating a recipe for a biscuit with milk chocolate, the intermediate product could be the milk chocolate. This is considered in the measurement of 100% for the minimum portion necessary for the Swissness calculation. Assuming that the milk chocolate fulfills Swissness requirements, it can be calculated at 80% for the fulfillment of the minimum percentage.
It will be interesting to observe the effect this legal change will have on the food chain in Switzerland. With several European countries showing ever-growing tendencies to distinguish locally produced products and identify the origin of ingredients, this is a topic we will be keeping a close eye on.
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