Update on the Swiss cheese export market

A large part of Swiss cheese is not produced for local consumers, but for other countries, as around 40% goes abroad. “On the European market, the three main varieties Le Gruyère AOP, Emmentaler AOP and Appenzeller cheese have an actual ‘engine function’, with Le Gruyère AOP in particular becoming stronger in all markets over the past few years,” Martin Spahr, head of marketing at Switzerland Cheese Marketing, says.

There are clear differences depending on the country. Appenzeller cheese tops the export rankings in Germany, while Emmentaler AOP is the clear leader in Italy and Le Gruyère AOP is ahead of the others in France and the US.

Worldwide, Le Gruyère AOP leads the export rankings with 13,293 tons, followed by Emmentaler AOP with 10,298 tons.

While exports of all cheese categories declined last year, cream cheese and quark has increased steadily in recent years, even though Switzerland is traditionally better known for its semi-hard and hard cheeses. The reason is that the products go well with many culinary trends.

Fresh cheese exports are mainly of ricotta and a few other fresh cheese categories.

“Some Swiss companies are very successful in this sector and can therefore offer Swiss quality at prices that are considered competitive in export, especially in a premium segment,” says Spahr.

Last year, the Swiss cheese industry saw around 4,000 tons less cheese exported. However, the value of the exports were in the range of 2020 and even slightly above 2019.

Nevertheless, demand abroad has decreased and this is unlikely to change in the short term due to the difficult market situation. Among other things, the expensive Swiss franc, rising production costs and high raw material prices make Swiss cheese more expensive, which inhibits sales abroad.

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