Swiss cheese exporters had their best year in 2009, selling 62,146 tons of Gruyère, Emmental, Appenzell, Tete de Moine, Tilsit and Vacherin to buyers in 73 countries, according to Switzerland Cheese Marketing AG in Bern. Shipments were valued at 567 million francs ($526 million), making them the nation’s third-biggest food export behind coffee and chocolate.
The 1.6 percent increase in Swiss cheese exports was a bright spot for the Alpine nation at a time when foreign sales of chocolate and watches fell and the country’s money managers searched for new business models after an international attack on banking secrecy.
Overall, Swiss exports slumped 14.7 percent in real terms last year — the sharpest decline since 1944. Watch shipments plunged 22 percent to a three-year low of 13.2 billion francs as demand for luxury timepieces slid amid the worst recession since the 1930s, according to the Federal Customs Office in Bern.