We use cookies in order to be able to offer you a better online experience. By using our website, you agree that we may place cookies on your device. Data Protection Declaration hide hint

Country report Switzerland

Food logistics across challenging terrain

The Swiss landscape is characterised by mountains, gorges, and valleys, which might sound postcard perfect at first, but holds several pitfalls for logistics. However, the transport infrastructure of the Alpine republic is highly advanced — which Nagel Suisse, Nagel-Group's Swiss subsidiary, counts as a major benefit.

Switzerland's geography is notable for its great diversity. In the winter months, the landscape invites tourists and locals for skiing, the rest of the year it inspires with its varied trails in the countryside. Visitors to Switzerland are either in search of adventure or relaxation. Besides the numerous outdoor activities on offer, tourists mostly associate the country, which covers 39,516 square kilometres, with picturesque mountain villages and alpine huts which exude nostalgia and romance.

In stark contrast to the countryside, art, culture and nightlife are some of the attractions offered by the big cities in Switzerland. Modern Swiss cities such as Zurich, Geneva, Basel or Bern are shaped by multiculturalism. The country's foreign population currently stands at around two million, and makes up a quarter of Switzerland's 8.4 million population. More than 80 percent of the foreign residents living in Switzerland are from European countries.

Well-developed transport infrastructure

In spite of its relatively small area and low population, Switzerland plays an important role in the transport of goods in Europe because it is centrally located and shares borders with Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Lichtenstein. Switzerland has an outstanding transport infrastructure. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, Swiss motorways cover 1,840 km. Switzerland also has a network of "canton roads" (one-lane roads with cross traffic) which covers 17,854 km. The country has three international airports in Zurich, Geneva, and Basel.

The Gotthard base tunnel, Switzerland's architectural marvel, presents an interesting option for goods transport. It started operating officially in December 2016. At 57 kilometres, it is the longest rail tunnel in the world. High-speed trains travel 800 metres under the surface through the twin-bore Gotthard base tunnel at speeds of up to 250km/h.

Challenging customs regulations

According to the Neuer Züricher Zeitung, the transport and logistics sector in Switzerland generated revenues of around 41 billion US dollars or around 40 billion Swiss francs in 2017. Almost 40 percent of all shipments were categorised as groupage, and primarily transported via road and rail. Both means of transport complement each other rather than compete with each other. Road transport is used for local distribution, whereas rail transport is used for long-haul and international transports. Switzerland ranks 11th in the current World Bank's Logistics Performance Index.

Logistics providers face significant challenges when importing and exporting food products from Switzerland. There are two main reasons for this: the geography of the country, and Swiss and European customs regulations. Merchandise and goods used for commercial purposes are subjected to special customs regulations. Customs declaration must be completed electronically and in accordance with the customs tariff. Nagel Suisse, the Nagel-Group's Swiss subsidiary, has opened its own customs office in Thayngen in order to respond to this challenge.

Export of confectionery

According to the Federal Statistical Office, Switzerland's GDP amounted to 669 billion US dollars in 2016. Exports of goods accounted for more than 60% of GDP. The Swiss food industry alone generated around 54.78 billion US dollars in 2015. The revenue mainly included confectionery, cocoa, and chocolate products.

Most of the Swiss exports go to the neighbouring EU countries. Germany, the UK, France, and Italy are the biggest exporters of goods from Switzerland. Products from chemical and pharmaceutical industries, precious metals, and precious stones and gemstones generate a large percentage of the country's export revenues. Precision instruments and watches represent the other important export products. It is hardly surprising that Switzerland had a trade surplus of more than 33 billion US dollars in 2016.

Cheese dominates

Swiss gastronomy has earned international recognition, especially cheese, which allows for many variations, and plays an important part in the country's cuisine. Gruyère, Emmental, Appenzeller cheese are often served as starters. The most popular dishes in the country are cheese-based. Cheese fondue and raclette have a long history in Swiss cuisine.

Having said that, dishes without cheese are also popular. Züricher Geschnezeltes (meat cut into strips), Berner Rösti (similar to hash browns) or Cervelat (cooked sausage) are some of the dishes that stand out. The Swiss cuisine also offers sweet alternatives to savoury dishes. Rüeblitorte (carrot cake) and "melt-in-the-mouth" Swiss chocolate bars are well-known internationally.

Headerimage: © fotolia - Miro Novak

Nagel Suisse

Nagel Suisse was founded in 2011 and has a branch in Thayngen. The Swiss subsidiary is located only a short distance from the border with Germany and has its own customs office. Until the operational sites are up and running, distribution in Switzerland is being carried out using the network of Nagel Suisse's cooperation partners.

Nagel-Group's branches in Deißlingen and Kehl in southwest Germany cover large parts of Switzerland, offering daily export and import transports, including groupage distribution and collection.

Recommended by the editors