Consumer group criticises Swiss supermarkets for pricy vegan products
The Foundation for Consumer Protection in Switzerland has criticised supermarkets and food producers for excessively high markups on vegan and vegetarian foods. According to 20 minuten, despite being cheaper to produce, most vegan alternatives are often just as expensive as their meat-based counterparts.
Vegan foods still as expensive as meat in Switzerland
"It is incomprehensible why a substitute product costs more than conventional meat," noted Josianne Walpen, food expert at the foundation. Speaking to 20 minuten, she explained that most vegan products on the shelves in Swiss cantons and cities are just as expensive as their meat alternatives. For example, a Planted. vegan schnitzel - the type that currently holds the record for the world's longest schnitzel - is often just as expensive as one made of pork.
While admittedly, the sales figures for vegan products are significantly lower than meat, the margin of profit remains excessively high. Walpen concluded that, “For the sake of the environment, we should eat significantly less meat... consumers pay too much [for vegan products] and this prevents us from reducing our meat consumption.”
Despite the bold allegations, the foundation admitted that it was hard to say to what extent consumers are being “ripped off” by manufacturers, international companies and supermarkets. When asked by 20 minuten, supermarkets Coop and Migros declined to comment on their profits, and the largest Swiss meat manufacturer, Bell, only said that “sales of vegan meat alternatives have shown pleasing growth rates in recent years… We only have limited influence on political issues and pricing and can therefore not comment on them.”
New calls to subsidise plant-based food in Switzerland
The sky-high prices for vegan products have been blamed on how farming subsidies are issued, with Green National Councillor Kilian Baumann explaining that “Switzerland's subsidy and customs policy comes from a time when the primary goal of agriculture was to produce as much meat as possible.” He called on the government to rethink and remodel how subsidies are issued so that more environmentally friendly food is produced.
Others are not so keen to move away from eating meat, with National Councillor, and member of the meat association in St. Gallen, Mike Egger, asserting that "there is a strong political trend, the Federal Office for Public Health and the Federal Office for the Environment are trying to take the lead in terms of nutrition and meat and animals in general, badmouthing produced food products.” “The administration is making a mood against meat, which is scientifically incorrect,” he concluded.
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