Swiss company Zweifel has 370 employees across a network of offices, production sites and depots. The company, which was established almost 60 years ago, manufacturers and markets crisps, popcorn and other snacks. A few years ago, it changed the oil it used, and Realini Pietro, director of products and logistics at Zweifel, explains why.

Why did you decide to change your oil supply?

Realini Pietro: Our goal was to set up a 100% Swiss production chain, as we mainly used imported oleic sunflower oil. Our work allows us to be in contact with farmers and crushers regularly, and that’s how we first heard about high-oleic, low-linolenic (HOLL) rapeseed oil five or six years ago. It took two years to secure the supply of oil, and to conduct industrial and consumer tests. We also had to focus on the changes that needed to be made to our packaging because the oil type has to be clearly identified and written on the packaging to illustrate the flower of the species used.

What tests did you carry out and how successful were they?

The industrial tests did not show any particular problems, and the stability of the oil was excellent with a lower freefatty acid content than our previous oil. This can be attributed to the shorter supply chain we have today, as local production allows shorter storage times. So, we therefore have better traceability and oil quality.

We also conducted consumer tests because we could not risk the quality of the products or our brand image. With assistance from an independent institute, the tests included blind ones that were positive too, finding quality, beautiful colour and no difference in taste. The tests, as well as taste considerations, also focused on odour and texture using specific criteria that was graded. One of our biggest worries was shelf life, which was determined by the quality of the final product. This was considered to be 12–15 weeks after the manufacturing process. Again, odour, taste and humidity were graded.

A panel did not notice any major difference: there was no alteration to taste when compared with the test we carried out on our products previously – the quality was still there.

What are you using the oil for?

More than 100 of our products have been made with HOLL rapeseed oil since last November. To date, it has been used in all product lines except organic ones.

A large communication plan was put in place at the beginning of the year for consumers, in parallel with the placement of products on the shelves. It is now a rapeseed flower that symbolises our frying baths – a rapeseed produced in Switzerland.

Why is being able to say ‘produced in Switzerland’ so important to Zweifel?

The main benefit of this change is that we now have a local and sustainable sector, which has a short supply chain, happy farmers and products with no difference in price. For us, it was a big project with logistical challenges, but we are happy to have done it. The company is proud to contribute to the Swiss market to produce quality products, all the way from the field to the plate. We believe Swiss people want to purchase Swissmade products – and we are proud to produce them. This move was, in part, made to answer the calls of Swiss consumers who wanted to be able to buy locally made products.

What feedback has the company received from consumers and farmers?

Consumers are satisfied with the quality of the products, and are happy and proud for the region. Farmers are also glad to produce local and high-quality OSR grains. I am in contact with farmers and participate in meetings with them, where I talk about our activity and explain Zweifel’s needs. Farmers show an interest in what is produced from the products they grow, as well as the quality we expect.