Does one need to stock up on food and other essentials? If so, which ones?
Swiss production covers on average 50% of the population's needs. This means that our country is dependent on foreign imports to cover all of its food needs.
The Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES) estimates that a supply disruption lasting for days rather than for months is more likely today.
The FONES therefore recommends the following reserves:
- Food that can be stored for a full week
- 9 litres of water per person
- Daily medication
It also recommends keeping a minimum reserve of cash in small bank notes at home in case electronic means of payments, such as debit or credit cards or money transfers via smartphones, become unavailable.
What is the timeframe for making these reservations?
It is still too early to say what the longer-term consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict might be for Switzerland. However, the risk of unexpectedly finding ourselves in an extreme situation cannot be completely excluded. In this case, it is reassuring to know that one has made up one's own domestic provisions. These can be anticipated and prepared as of today. If necessary, it is important to ensure that stocks are rotated, particularly in order to avoid food wastage (and thus to always have in stock food that has not expired).
Where does one find this information?
All this information is outlined in the brochure of the Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES), "Provisions... for the Future".
These consist of recommendations and are not binding at this stage. They are based on individual responsibility and choice.
More generally, if food imports were to fall, leading to a serious shortage, the Confederation could compensate by drawing on its compulsory stocks.
The FONES brochure on this subject exists in:
What happens if the crisis persists?
If the crisis is ongoing, the federal government plans to reduce the level of supply by restricting demand through limited sales.
As a last resort, it will introduce rationing to distribute food supplies fairly, with the caloric intake that is reduced, but is still bearable. If necessary, the Confederation may commission the cantons to carry out tasks within this framework.
What happens in the event of a supply disruption?
With regard to the national economic supply (NES), the Confederation ensures the supply of essential goods and services in the event of a threat of war, another emergency or a serious shortage that the economy is not able to address on its own. In other words, according to the principle of subsidiarity, the supply of the country is basically the responsibility of the private sector. It is only if the private sector is no longer able to fulfil its tasks that the state intervenes to deal with the situation.
The Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES) is made up of six divisions, one of which is the energy division, which covers electricity, oil products, natural gas, firewood and drinking water.
The Confederation can decide on rationing measures. If necessary, it can commission the cantons to carry out tasks within this framework.
What happens in the event of a disruption of the drinking water supply?
According to the revised version of the Ordinance on Securing the Supply of Drinking Water in the Event of a Severe Shortage (OAP) (in French: Ordonnance sur la garantie de l’approvisionnement en eau potable lors d’une pénurie grave (OAP)), which came into force on 1st October 2020, the population must be provided with at least four litres of drinking water per day and per person from the fourth day of a severe shortage.
During the first three days, the population is responsible for obtaining drinking water from individual water supplies (domestic supplies).
What about in the case of a disruption of electricity supply?
In the event of a power cut, the National Economic Supply (in French: Approvisionnement économique du pays - AEP) is responsible for preparing and implementing regulated management measures, which may include load shedding (switching off the power supply for a few hours in alternating sectors). The implementation of these measures is under the responsibility of the Organisation for Electricity Supply in Crises (In French: OSTRAL - Organisation pour l’approvisionnement en électricité en cas de crise).
If we no longer have electricity in the shelter, how will we cook food without setting fire to it or causing smoke in the shelter?
Among the household provisions (to be made up for a week), the Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES) recommends to include immediately consumable food (i.e. chocolate, crackers, long life cheese such as "Laughing Cow", dried fruit, etc.) which will be appreciated in the event of a power cut when nothing can be reheated.
What about in the case of a disruption of natural gas supply?
In the event of a natural gas shortage, the National Economic Supply (in French: Approvisionnement économique du pays - AEP) aims to reduce consumption by steering demand.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has implications for the energy sector. According to current information, Switzerland's energy supply is secure for this winter. The Federal Council has now decided to take preventive measures to enhance the security of gas supply for next winter.
The Federal Council has instructed the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (DEFR), in collaboration with the Competition Commission (COMCO), to ensure that the Swiss gas industry can procure gas, gas storage capacity, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and LNG terminal capacity as quickly as possible and on a joint basis. This decision was taken after discussions with the gas industry.
What about in the case of fuel (petrol) supply disruption?
If oil imports are a problem, the federal government will try to supply the country by releasing compulsory reserves and then, if necessary, by gradually reducing consumption. In Switzerland, the mutual assistance organisation for importers of liquid fuels and combustibles for the purpose of building up compulsory reserves is CARBURA, an association established under private law and supervised by the Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES).
Where can one find further information?
The mandate of national economic supply (NES) is laid down in Article 102 of the Federal Constitution: "The Confederation shall ensure the supply of the country with essential goods and services in order to be able to cope with a threat of war, another demonstration of force or a serious shortage which the economy is unable to overcome by its own means. It takes preventive measures."
The Federal Office for National Economic Supply (FONES) provides answers to all national questions relating to the supply sector, particularly with regard to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.