SUS-CHAIN: Case Studies

CH: NaturaBeef – supply of certified beef at national scale

The case study of ‘NaturaBeef’ demonstrates an initiatives that already exists for more than three decades. In the 1970s, there were regular problems with an oversupply of milk, a research project was initiated to introduce the suckling cow system, as a way of taking grass land out of the milk production. A group of 30 farmers started producing cattle with meat as the primary production ‘objective’ through the suckling cow system and was followed by a research team. This lead to the development of the ASVNM (or Suisse Association of sucker cow breeders) in 1977, whose primary objective was to develop exchange between its members, maintain a common herd-book and find marketing channels for this type of production. Until now, ASVNM was able to maintain the position of unique organisation for the trade of suckling beef in Switzerland.

The initiative has considerably scaled-up with presently 3775 producers members. In the 1980s, the initiative recognised the need for a label to find its place in the market. The name NaturaBeef was chosen and more or less concurrently a strong partnership with the Swiss retailer COOP was established. At COOP the beef is sold with the retailer’s private label Naturaplan. All partners in the initiative (producers – traders – meat companies – abattoirs) must be approved and respect a specific code of practices. Assets specificity is very high for producers, because the production process leads to higher production costs.

In the beginning of the 1990s the sales of beef through COOP came into a “consolidation process”, but the number of producers in the association was still increasing. This pressed for developing new marketing channels. In 1996 the ASVNM decided to in vest in a new market for higher quality beef. They created a partnership with five local “artisan” butchers to develop a production standard that could respond to higher quality needs of the consumers. On this basis, the label “SwissPrimBeef” was developed.

Finally it can be stated, that the initiative has a long history and many successes over the years. It has reached a national dimension and has had a strong growth until now. Therefore it is a good example for other cases, how initiatives may develop over a long period.

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