Rice is becoming more expensive in Switzerland. This is due to more expensive imports. Meanwhile, rice cultivation in Switzerland is still very small. (Iconic image)
In Switzerland, rice has been growing in Ticino for a long time. However, it is grown dry there, like wheat. Ticino rice farmers harvest around 450 tons a year. But that doesn’t come close to covering consumption: Switzerland imports 60,000 tons of rice every year.
The Swiss Farmers’ Association puts the annual rice consumption per capita at 6.5 kilos. For comparison: the most popular grain in this country, wheat, weighs over 70 kilos. Potatoes are eaten at around 50 kilos per head.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), on the other hand, estimates annual per capita rice consumption in China at around 75 kilos. In Vietnam, a total of around 190 kilos are served.
In Switzerland, dry cultivation, which works like other cereals, is actually only possible in Ticino due to the temperatures required, says Sandra Helfenstein from the Farmers’ Association to the AWP news agency. “Maybe that will change when there are new, more cold-resistant rice varieties.”
Meanwhile, in German-speaking Switzerland, there is now the first area in so-called wet cultivation: the field is flooded and the rice grows in the water. “However, this is very time-consuming and only a few areas are suitable for this.
A look at the foreign trade statistics shows that Switzerland paid over a fifth more for the same amount of imported rice in 2022 (+21%). However, the underlying statistics include any type of rice – including so-called broken rice, which is fed to animals or used to brew beer.
The Swiss are also feeling the price increase for side dishes. According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, consumer prices for rice rose by 1.6 percent last year.
“We had to raise the prices for a number of products at the beginning of the year,” Migros said on request. “In the case of rice, the purchase prices have risen due to higher costs for harvesting, transport and energy. In Italy, rice has also become more expensive due to a drought, and in Asia we are struggling with the increased freight costs.”
Coop also had to adjust the prices of some rice products in the recent past – due to higher raw material prices and increased energy and logistics costs, it is said. The retailers do not communicate exact figures. In October, for example, Coop removed Uncle Ben’s rice from the range due to the manufacturer’s price increases.