The members of the Migros cooperative have decided: Migros branches throughout Switzerland will remain alcohol-free. Migros will not sell any alcoholic beverages in the future.
In November 2021, Movendi International reported that Migros, Switzerlands largest supermarket chain and one of the 40 largest retailers in the world, was mulling plans to start selling alcohol through its main branches. The plans marked a remarkable shift in approach: Since its founding in 1925, the company followed the principle of contributing to the social good by not selling alcohol, in order to avoid fueling alcohol harm through increasing alcohol availability. But the supermarket chain executive proposed a controversial decision to Migros cooperative members to pursue profit maximization instead of social responsibility.
This May, the cooperative members got to vote and their verdict is clear: in all ten regions of Switzerland cooperative members have voted against the sale of alcohol by the orange giant.
The no was powerful, according to Migros, reports SRF.
According to the announcement, the interest of people in voting was great. In total, more than 630,000 of the 2.3 million members of the cooperative took part in the ballot – more than ever before. The turnout was 29%. Voting ran until June 4. The ten regional Migros cooperatives could cast their votes either by post or in person at the Migros branches.
In none of the ten regional cooperatives the required two-thirds majority of yes votes was reached, which would have been necessary to lift the alcohol retail ban in the statutes, Migros announced on Thursday. The voters have thus clearly spoken out in favor of continuing the alcohol-free tradition and support for social responsibility over profit maximization at Migros.
The result did not come as a surprise: Various polls had shown in advance that the majority of eligible voters was likely to put a “non” in the ballot box.
The alcohol retail issue, which was raised in the fall of 2021, will be off the table for the foreseeable future.
Two strong camps
The vote had caused great controversy and split the Migros world into two camps. The Migros management itself referred to a changed social situation and changed consumption habits: if customers bought alcohol from a wholesaler, they would stock up on groceries there as well, so the argument for lifting the alcohol ban.
Because Migros is missing out on a significant part of the shopping basket, five delegates from the Federation of Migros Cooperatives (MGB) initiated a change in the statutes last year. In the fall, 85 of the 111 delegates voted in favor of a corresponding change. The committees of the ten regional Migros cooperatives then approved the application and thus paved the way for the nationwide ballot by the members of the cooperative.
Proponents for alcohol prevention argued with the legacy of Migros founder Gottlieb Duttweiler, who decided against selling alcoholic beverages when Migros was founded in 1928. They also stated that Migros was a safe place for people with alcohol problems in particular to shop.
And illustrations of the results depict the resounding no, highlighting that people in Switzerland treat alcohol as a harmful product that should be de-normalized and that should be sold with common sense limits.
For example, President of IOGT Switzerland Priska Hauser-Scherer, a member of Movendi International, also highlighted in her reaction to the results of the vote the fact that people do not want more alcohol availability. That should be a lesson for the Migros executives.
People with an alcohol problem can still shop at Migros today without coming into contact with alcohol and alcohol advertising,” says the Blue Cross, for example, according to SRF reporting.
The vote is a victory for alcohol prevention, for youth protection, and for compassion with people who experience alcohol problems over profit maxmization.
Migros subsidiaries sell alcohol
The sale of alcohol in Migros shops will remain outruled as a result of the vote. But the Migros Group engages in alcohol retail through its subsidiaries, such as Denner or Migrolino that have offered a wide range of alcohol for many years.
Alcohol-free Migros beer “Non” is coming. As already announced for this vote, there will still be a visible change in the assortment of Migros branches, Migros restaurants and Migros take-aways. The non-alcoholic Migros beer “Non” will probably be available from 2023.
We already offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverage alternatives, for example for trendy aperitifs,” says Ursula Nold.
From now on, the non-alcoholic Migros beer will be a visible symbol of Migros democracy in the shops.”Ursula Nold, President of the Administration of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives (MGB)