Switzerland

Mandatory Organic Standards and Labels

In Switzerland, the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance (Organic Law) applies. It defines rules for organic production, distribution and labelling of organic products. The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research Ordinance on Organic Farming (EAER Ordinance on Organic Farming) specifies in more detail the requirements of the Organic Farming Ordinance.

The competent authority responsible for the implementation of the Swiss organic legislation is the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).

A mandatory national logo for organic products does not exist.

Organic Farming Ordinance on organic production, distribution and labelling of organic products
The Organic Farming Ordinance 910.18 (Bio-Verordnung) defines rules for organic production, distribution and labelling of organic products.
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EAER Ordinance on Organic Farming
The Ordinance of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research (EAER) on Organic Farming (910.181) covers detailed rules for the implementation of the Organic Farming Ordinance.
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Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG)
Website of the Federal Office for Agriculture (Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft (BWL), the competent authority for organic agriculture in Switzerland.
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Obligations for the declaration of organic products in Switzerland
Leaflet about the legal basis for the declaration of organic food in Switzerland on the basis of the general food law and the Swiss Organic Law.
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Voluntary Organic Standards and Labels

The umbrella association representing the private organic sector in Switzerland is Bio Suisse. The well-known private label of Bio Suisse - the “Bud” (Knospe) - plays a major role in the organic market in Switzerland. Nearly three quarter of all organic products sold in Switzerland are labelled with the bud. For that, they have to be produced in accordance to the Bio Suisse label standards, which are stricter in agricultural production and processing than the Swiss Organic Law. The biggest seller of organic food in Switzerland, Coop, only accepts products with the bud. When exporters gain to sell their products via retailers like Migros, Aldi, Lidl or organic shops, there is no obligation to use the private bud label.

Another private organic association with own standards and an own label is Demeter, which is organized under the umbrella of Bio Suisse. Demeter products are sold via organic retailers, directly at farm or farmers’ markets and in some outlets of Coop and Migros.

Bio Suisse
Website of Bio Suisse with comprehensive information on the association, its member, its standards and its label as well as organic market information.
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Demeter
Website of the private association Demeter.
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Control Bodies

There are different certifying bodies operating in Switzerland in accordance to the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance and accredited by the Swiss Accreditation Service (SAS). The list of recognized certification bodies is provided by the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).

List of Recognized Certification Bodies and Control Authorities
List of recognized certification bodies and control authorities provided by the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).
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Import Requirements

The legal basis for the import of organic products is the most recent version of the Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance, in particular Articles 22 to 24a and 26. The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research Ordinance on Organic Farming (EAER Ordinance on Organic Farming) specifies in more detail the requirements of the Organic Farming Ordinance.

Two procedures regarding the import of organic products apply:

  1. Import according to the list of countries (equivalence agreements)
  2. Import according to the list of recognized certification bodies

Import according to the list of countries (equivalence agreements)

The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research Ordinance on Organic Farming (EAER) recognizes the production rules and inspection systems that exist in a number of countries as being equivalent to those operating in Switzerland. These countries are listed in Annex 4 (list of countries) of the EAER Ordinance on Organic Farming.

Import according to the list of recognized certification bodies

The Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) recognizes certification bodies and inspection authorities of countries not included in the list of countries, if the certification bodies and inspection authorities can prove that the products in question meet the conditions laid down in Article 22 of the Organic Farming Ordinance.

Customs clearance and import notification

Each consignment must be accompanied by a certificate of inspection. No certificate of inspection is required for consignments from EU Member States, provided the imported products have been cleared in a Member State of the EU.

The certificate of inspection must be drawn up by the inspection body or authority in the country of origin (i.e. country of dispatch, country of export):

  • In the case of imports from countries included in the list of countries, the certificate has to be issued by a certification body or inspection authority authorized for the exporting country according to the list of countries.
  • In the case of imports of products according to the list of recognized certification bodies, the certificate has to be issued by a certification body or inspection authority authorized for the exporting country according to the list of recognized certification bodies.

In the case of fresh products, a single certificate of inspection may be issued for all consignments in a calendar week (group certificate), based on the delivery notes. The group certificate must be with the importer within 14 days of the last consignment of the relevant calendar week.

Import of Bio Suisse products

The Bio Suisse Standards differ from minimum governmental regulations in several important respects. For all foreign operations (from cultivation to export) supplying import products to the Swiss sales channels, which require the "Bud" label, the operator must hold a valid Bio Suisse Certificate issued by an accredited inspection body. Additionally to the recognised certification bodies by Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG), the private label organisation Bio Suisse recognises imports in accordance to their own standards via the ICB (International Certification Bio Suisse).

Information on Import of Organic Products and Equivalence Arrangements
Website of the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) with information on the import of organic products and on equivalence arrangements.
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Organic Farming Ordinance on organic production, distribution and labelling of organic products
The Organic Farming Ordinance (Bio-Verordnung) defines rules for organic production, distribution and labelling of organic products. Import requirements are laid down in Articles 22 to 24a and 26.
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Annex 4 of EAER Ordinance on Organic Farming: List of countries
Annex 4 of the EAER Ordinance on Organic Farming covers the list of countries that have production rules and inspection standards which are recognized as equivalent to those in Switzerland. The list describes the product categories for which the recognition is valid (including restrictions), the applicable production rules, the responsible authorities, the recognised control bodies, as well as the authorities issuing certifications.
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List of Recognized Certification Bodies and Inspection Authorities
List of Recognized Certification Bodies and Inspection Authorities for the purpose of equivalence and relevant specifications referred to Article 23a of Organic Farming Ordinance (SR 910.18), sorted according to name of control body. Listed are countries and product categories for which the recognition applies.
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Import of organic products-guide
Guide on the import of organic products provided by the Quality and Sales Promotion Unit of the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).
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Import Policy of Bio Suisse
The website describes the import policy of the private organisation Bio Suisse, when products are dedicated to be sold with the label “Bud” (Knospe).
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Import Requirements of Bio Suisse
The website describes the import procedures and requirements of the private organisation Bio Suisse, when products are dedicated to be sold with the label “Bud” (Knospe).
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Further Information

General information on organic agriculture in Switzerland.

Facts about the Swiss organic market
The latest production, market and consumption figures of the organic sector in Switzerland (annually updated).
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Organic Europe: Switzerland
Country report on organic agriculture in Switzerland. The site is updated irregularly.
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Global Organic Trade Guide: Switzerland
Website of the American Organic Trade Association (OTA) providing information on international organic trade. Although designed for U.S. exporters, some of the provided information might also be interesting for exporters from other countries.
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