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Switzerland to end decades of emergency stockpiling of 'non-essential' coffee beans

Switzerland plans to abolish the nation's emergency stockpile of coffee, which has been in place for decades, after declaring the beans are not vital for human survival — though opposition to the proposal is brewing.

Key points:

Switzerland has long stockpiled staples like sugar, rice, oil and coffee in case of war, disaster or epidemics

The system of emergency reserves was established between World War I and World War II

Coffee companies and some organisations oppose the move, partly because the reserves buttress the supply chain

Nestle, the maker of instant coffee Nescafe, and other importers, roasters and retailers are required by Swiss law to store bags of raw coffee. The country stockpiles other staples, too, such as sugar, rice, edible oils and animal feed, the Government announced on Wednesday.

This system of emergency reserves was established between World War I and World War II as Switzerland prepared for any potential shortages in case of war, natural disaster or epidemics. According to the plan released for public comment, coffee stockpiling obligations would expire by the end of 2022, with companies free to draw down what they store in their warehouses.

"The Federal Office for National Economic Supply has concluded coffee … is not essential for life," the Government said.

"Coffee has almost no calories and subsequently does not contribute, from the physiological perspective, to safeguarding nutrition."

A final decision on scrapping the coffee stockpiles is expected in November.