Switzerland is heavily dependent upon imports, so maintaining reserves of certain goods is a very important precautionary measure in ensuring security of supply. If an unforeseen crisis means that the market is no longer able to satisfy demand for vital basic goods, having reserves to release as needed is a valuable instrument for NES.
The federal government and the private sector work together to maintain the system of compulsory stocks. The Confederation determines which goods and how much of them need to be stocked. However, the stocks are the property of private businesses rather than of the government, and are managed by them. On 1 January 2019 around 300 private companies held compulsory stocks.
The costs of maintaining compulsory stocks are included by companies in the sales prices and are thus borne by the consumer.
Each person in Switzerland pays about CHF 12 a year on average towards NES in this way (status: 1 November 2019).