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Where are fruit & veg prices highest and lowest in Europe?

Among all 38 countries, the lowest prices for oils, fats, fruits, vegetables and potatoes ween seen in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and for other food products in Poland, while the highest prices for almost all categories were observed in Switzerland.

Romania is the EU’s most inexpensive country for fruit, vegetables and potatoes and Sweden the most expensive.

And generally speaking, fruit and vegetable prices are higher in Northern Europe and cheaper in Eastern Europe.

Those are some of the trends seen in Eurostat’s most recent survey on food, beverages and tobacco prices, carried out in 2015 and covered in an article on the website Eurostat Statistics Explained.

The article focuses primarily on price levels for food, beverages and tobacco in 38 European countries – 3 EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) and 5 EU candidate countries (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia and Turkey), 1 potential candidate country (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Kosovo, as well as the 28 EU Member States.

Among all 38 countries, the lowest prices for oils, fats, fruits, vegetables and potatoes were seen in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and for other food products in Poland, while the highest prices for almost all categories were observed in Switzerland.

The category of fruit, vegetables and potatoes includes fresh or chilled fruit, frozen, preserved or processed fruit and fruit-based products, fresh or chilled potatoes, frozen, preserved or processed vegetables and vegetable-based products.

Source: Comparative price levels for food, beverages and tobacco


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Emmi, Stef form joint logistics network in Switzerland

European cold logistics specialist Stef and leading Swiss milk processor Emmi have agreed to create a joint logistics and distribution network dedicated to refrigerated food products (+2°C / +4°C).

European cold logistics specialist Stef and leading Swiss milk processor Emmi have agreed to create a joint logistics and distribution network dedicated to refrigerated food products (+2°C / +4°C).

In a press release, they said the move will strengthen and extend the two existing networks, with the main objective being a supply chain meeting the quality requirements of Swiss manufacturers for both domestic distribution and European exports.

In Switzerland, Stef currently offers logistics services dedicated to frozen food. “The setting up of this partnership with the logistics business unit of Emmi Group will help Stef strengthen its position on the logistics market for refrigerated food products. In return, the logistics arm of Emmi Group will benefit from the expertise of a global logistics operator and from a connection to a large European network.

The logistics business unit of Emmi distributes well-known brands, on top of its own products.”

“By combining their skills and expertise, Emmi and Stef will now offer to the Swiss market a complete range of high quality solutions for refrigerated food products. Joint services cover all logistics and supply chain management services, including pick-up, cross-docking, handling, hauling, storage, co-packing additional services, groupage and unbundling, distribution, management of re-usable crates, return and after-sales services, customs clearance (import/export). In total, 700 employees will work for the Emmi-Stef network.”

“The current logistics infrastructures of Stef and Emmi, which process more than 2 million pallets a year, will be reinforced with the future Stef centerpiece warehouse in Switzerland: the Kölliken site to be commissioned in September 2017, a 90,000 m3 dual warehouse (negative cold -25°C and positive cold +2°C / +4°C).”

Photo: from left to right: Pierre-Alain Frossard (Director of Stef Switzerland), Max Peter (Director Trade & Supply Chain Management of Emmi Group), Séverine Demange (European Key Account Manager of Stef), Stanislas Lemor (Deputy C.E.O. of Stef), Robert Muri (Executive Vice President Switzerland of Emmi Group), Serge Capitaine (Deputy C.E.O. of Stef), Giovanni Aprile (Corporate Strategic Key Account Director of Stef).


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Small, well developed Swiss fresh produce market offers growth opportunities


Being located in the centre of Europe, Switzerland holds a unique position among its neighbouring countries as a non-EU member country. In comparison with Europe, Switzerland has a small fruit and vegetable market. However, it is well developed and stands out for its high quality of supplies due to the high standard of living. Although it may be small, prospects are good for the Swiss fresh produce market. Due mainly to increased health awareness, total consumption of fruit and vegetables there continues to grow. About half of all fruit and vegetables consumed are imported.

According to Swisscofel, the Swiss association of fruit, vegetable and potato traders, growth opportunities are especially good for high quality products that are produced in a nature-friendly way, as well as convenience products. For individual products, the market can offer opportunities specifically if the fruit or vegetables are offered before or after the Swiss production season. Today, about 24 % of Switzerland’s inhabitants are from abroad, mainly from Asia and the Mediterranean area, and the fresh produce available has developed correspondingly. According to Swisscofel it has had a very positive impact on the demand for fruit and vegetables as a whole. Much as in the rest of Europe, the Swiss commercial structures are in motion. The market is largely defined by the retailers Migros and Coop, though the market offers a place to other retailers such as Denner, Magro, Spar, Volg and Prodega, too. The German discounters Aldi and Lidl are also expanding on the Swiss market. Because of the strong market presence of Migros and Coop, Swisscofel signals an increasing need for wholesalers to align their services with the needs of these retailers when it comes to issues like price, marketing or positioning.


Although the total population is only growing slightly and the average age of the Swiss population is increasing—meaning that on average a little less food is consumed—the total fruit and vegetable consumption per capita is at a very high level and still rising. The national ‘5 a day’ campaign promotes consumption of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Apparently it is working and consumers are increasingly aware of the benefits of a healthy diet. Where in 1980 the per capita consumption of fresh vegetables was less than 60 kg, this has risen to just under 80 kg in 2014. Fresh fruit consumption has increased, too. Swisscofel signals that over the past 30 years, the consumption habits of the Swiss have changed and retail has responded to that by offering an increasingly wide range of fresh produce. It is also noted that the demand for products from fair programmes and organic production is growing. Swisscofel reports that interest in mini vegetables is growing and that they are a successful niche product. The average household in Switzerland consists of 2.6 people, which gives rise to the need for convenience products and small packages.


The Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into line with the EU’s to enhance their international competitiveness, but some trade protectionism remains, particularly for its small agricultural sector. For most fruit and vegetables that are domestically grown, imports are limited and a system of preferred tariffs is applicable. Depending on the market opportunities and domestic supply, quota are released on a weekly basis. These measures mean that during the harvest season the sales of domestic produce do not see excessive competition.

About half of Switzerland’s needs for fresh fruit and vegetables are met domestically and the other half is imported. This amounted to an imported volume of 819,148 tons in 2014 with a corresponding value of 17 million euros. Depending on domestic production facilities, the imported volume of individual products differs. Swisscofel reports that in 2014 about 9 % of the carrots, 37 % of the tomatoes and about 8.5 % of the pomaceaous fruits were imported in 2014. 

Vegetables and fruit are mainly imported from neighbouring countries and southern Europe. Around 62 % of the fruit imports and 86 % of the vegetable imports are from Europe, but exporters from non-European countries have also become important trade partners for Switzerland. For instance, Morocco supplied over 20 % of the imported tomatoes in 2014.  

Over the past 4 years, the total import volume of fruit went up by 3.5 % to a total of 511,758 tons in 2014. The of in imported fruit from Europe went down from 69.2 % in 2010 to 62.3 % in 2014, whereas the share of imports from Central and South America rose to 10.4 % and 15.2 % respectively in the same year. The imported volume of vegetables has risen over the years too; from 279,686 tons in 2010 to 307,390 tons in 2014; an increase of 9.8 %. Although by far the most important supplier, the share for Europe is declining in vegetables, too, to 86 % in 2014. North Africa and Asia complete the top 3 with shares in imported vegetables of 5.7 % and 4.8 % respectively in 2014.

Population: 8.1 million *
GDP: 473.3 **
Growth rate: 1.9 **
Inflation rate: 0% **
Total area: 41,277 square km 
Source: CIA World fact book
*estimation 2015.
**estimation 2014



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Coop Group focused on sustainability and variety – and online sales

“Sustainability, variety, quality and pricing performance continue to be the attributes by which it positions itself,” Coop says.

Switzerland’s Coop Group says sustainability and variety are its leitmotif for 2015

Despite a difficult environment, total sales for the internationally active retailer and wholesaler last year inched up 1.4% on 2013. And this year it aims to repeat the feat.

“The supermarkets will focus mainly on sustainability and variety in 2015, when the Coop Group again aims to achieve above-average growth through the online formats Coop@home, and and the numerous other online shops,” the Basel-based group said in its 2014 annual report, published February 17.

“The Coop Group also aims to more closely combine bricks-and-mortar and online trading through cross-channel solutions.”
“Sustainability, variety, quality and pricing performance continue to be the attributes by which it positions itself,” it said.

The report shows the group – which claims to have the densest network of sales outlets in Switzerland – ran about 1970 retail outlets (supermarkets and specialist retail formats) and 199 in wholesale last year.

Strong growth in online business

Coop described its online business as a strong growth market, one in which its net sales exceeded one billion francs for the first time last year. “Online shops in the retail sector lifted sales 52.4%, while online sales in the wholesale business grew 10.4%,” it said.

Wholesale and production business areas: shift from cash & carry to wholesale supplies

The group’s wholesale operations are conducted through the Transgourmet Group, while the Bell Group and the Coop manufacturing companies comprise its manufacturing operations.

“In the wholesale/production segment, the potential for further growth lies in integrating activities across Europe. Political developments in Russia, including the weakness of the rouble, and the difficult economic trend in Romania pose a challenge.

“In wholesaling, the ongoing shift from cash & carry to wholesale supplies continues. The Transgourmet Group is systematically pursuing its chosen multi-channel strategy, i.e. combining cash & carry and wholesale suppliers, thereby further boosting wholesale supplies. Transgourmet continues to expand its market position by implementing a transnational own brand strategy,” the report said.

Retail: ‘greatest product range diversity in Swiss food retailing’

The group’s retail business spans the Coop Cooperative with its supermarkets and specialist formats, plus subsidiaries.

In 2014, growth In the retail segment was driven especially by the Interdiscount and formats as well as by the 2014 acquirees Marché Restaurants Schweiz AG and RS Vertriebs AG with the und Schubiger sales brands.

Stocking more than 40,000 items, Coop claims to offer “the greatest product range diversity in Swiss food retailing” with “manufacturer brands, affordable own-label brands, sustainable products or articles for people with allergies or for vegetarians.”

Coop ann report.retail food percentages.png

In 2014, Coop expanded its selection of regional and local products – now sold under its new Miini Region quality seal – and numerous sustainability ranges were extended, for instance the own-label sustainability brand Ünique.

Own-label sustainability brands & quality labels include:

Ünique – Comprising high quality carrots, a vegetable mix and now also cucumbers, Ünique has been marketed in Coop supermarkets since 2014 as an own-label sustainability brand, underpinning Coop’s view “that entire harvests should be utilized and not just parts of them.”

Pro Specie Rara – Parsnips were extremely popular among the vegetables in this line sold by Coop last year. Since 1999 it has been working with the Pro Specie Rara Foundation to maintain the biodiversity of Swiss farming.

Swiss no. 1 in organic

Coop says it is the market leader for organic products, with one in two organic products sold in Switzerland purchased at its stores.

Most of its organic food products are marketed under the Naturaplan own label brand, which posted sales of 1.1 billion francs for organic products in 2014, up 2%. For its organic products, Coop uses the Bio Suisse bud emblem.

Hochstamm Suisse: preserving heritage fruit trees

Since 2008, Coop has worked closely with the Hochstamm Suisse association, which is dedicated to maintaining and fostering standard fruit-tree orchards in Switzerland. These comprise a wide range of fruit varieties and provide habitats for endangered animals. Coop currently stocks around 40 products made entirely from Swiss Hochstamm fruit, including apple and pear juices.

Convenience foods

The Betty Bossi brand of fresh convenience foods – which Coop said is Switzerland’s most successful such range – is sold exclusively by it. In 2014, Coop launched around 150 new Betty Bossi products, for the first time including items to consume warm while “on the go”. In autumn, the “let’s cook” line was launched, comprising pre-prepared vegetables, ready-made sauces and pre-cooked side dishes, making “healthy home cooking easy and without any need to chop and peel.” Coop generated sales of 470 million francs with Betty Bossi products in 2014, up 2.2% on 2013.

Primagusto: first-class fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables with particularly intense flavour are chosen for the Coop own brand Primagusto, which now comprises 42 seasonal products. In 2014, it posted sales of 21 million francs and growth of 26.9%.

Exotic fruit ripening

Among Coop’s manufacturing companies is Banana Ripening Plant Services, with activities including the sourcing, ripening and packaging of bananas and exotic fruit.

Last year it stored and order-picked six banana and three pineapple varieties, in addition to mango, avocado and 42 varieties of dried fruit and nuts, delivering a total of 22,870 tons of bananas, 1,569 tons of dried fruit and 4,256 tons of exotic fruit (pineapples, mangoes, avocados).

The share of bananas bearing the Fairtrade Max Havelaar quality label in the overall banana range rose to nearly 90% and the Banana Ripening Plant increased the share of organic items in its total output to nearly 35% in 2014.

source: Coop Group’s 2014 annual report:

Coop Group key figures for 2014

Total sales: 28,174 CHF million (+ 1.4%)
Net sales: 27,163 CHF million
Net sales in Switzerland: 19,821 CHF million
Net sales abroad: 7,341 CHF million (48.7% generated in Germany)
Net sales from online shops: 1,124 CHF million (+24.1%)
Profit: 470 CHF million (1.7% of net sales)
Employees: about 77,000 (46,270 in retail)
Based in: Basel, Switzerland
Parent: Coop Group Cooperative

Number of sales outlets
Retail: 1,971 (+38)
No. of Coop supermarkets: 837
Wholesale/Production: 199

Coop Group business areas.png

Coop net sales abroad.png


Read the report here.



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How Switzerland’s Coop Leads the Way on Sustainability

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The number two Swiss retailer is ranked by independent agency oekom research AG as most committed chain in the world to sustainable development


Coop is the second biggest Swiss food retailer, with 35% of the market. It currently has 1,933 retail supermarkets in Switzerland and posted net sales of €14.9 billion in 2013, up by 1.7% on the previous year despite several waves of price cutting.


Coop has long been committed to sustainable development. “Sustainable development is a very important issue for Swiss consumers,” emphasized Raphaël Schilling, Coop’s head of Sustainable Development. “For Coop, it is essential to invest in this field in order to guarantee product availability in the long term”.


For fruit and vegetables, the group has identified four main sources of sustainability-related risk: working conditions at source, energy and CO2, water use, and pesticides.


On working conditions, Coop’s strategy for produce from developing countries is to expand FairTrade certification. Already 95% of its bananas and a large proportion of its avocados, pineapples and mangoes are FairTrade certified and the process is under way for papayas.


To reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint, Coop gives preference to regional, national and European products, in that order. It also limits the use of air freight as much as possible. For instance, white asparagus used to be imported from Peru by air and now travels by sea.


Read the full article online here on page 18 of issue 133 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine

author: VB