Swiss butchers are rarely known for their excellent beef for a good reason but Hatecke is different. I could never quite understand why Swiss beef is so unpopular for locals but there are two reasons: cost and taste perception because cows eating grass and climbing the alps are not tender and juicy. On average, a Swiss farm covers an area of 20 hectares; in Germany, it is over 60 hectares, so you pay for quality not quantity right?
Not exactly, in Switzerland, meat costs are rising and retailers are forced to import meats and they are still much cheaper in comparison to local beef. For example, you will have to pay at least 12 Swiss francs (€11) for two simple barbecue skewers weighing 150 gram each. Adding all costs together, you might change your mind and switch to barbecuing veggies instead.
For every kilogram of meat farmers in Switzerland produce, they earn about twice as much money in Switzerland as opposed to abroad. It is true Switzerland has higher production costs, but Swiss farmers are nevertheless spoiled. One cost contribution has been made by the big Swiss supermarket chains Migros and Coop, having their own animal welfare labels. They have their own guidelines in terms of animal welfare and environmental protection and that’s certainly a great approach with some added margins.
However the beef system only works because Switzerland is not part of the European Economic Area. It can therefore easily isolate itself from the EU internal market and protect domestic products from foreign imports hence the farmers reap the benefits.
In the end, a small country with a focus on social standards still leads Swiss to cross border shop and smuggle meat across the borders or pay the tariffs. But never forget many Swiss prefer paying higher prices and maintaining the snob appeal at home. It’s a dead end game anyway because sooner or later meat will become a thing of the past, and the meat substitutes will reign.
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