The True Cost of Food

Monday, 24th July, 10:30-11:30



Agrifood systems generate significant benefits to society through food, culture and jobs. However, they are also contributing to climate change, natural resource degradation, and impacting our health through changing dietary patterns. Panelists will share their experiences in addressing these hidden costs of food systems, highlighting that - if appropriately measured – they can be integrated in decision-making to improve the value provided to society by food systems. A discussion will follow on how the True Cost approach can reinforce the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of food systems.


The hidden costs of agrifood systems have been estimated to range globally between 12 and 17 trillion USD per year. However, national and sub-national estimates of hidden costs are scarce. Systematically accounting for (hidden) costs and benefits can guide structural change towards agrifood systems that deliver affordable healthy diets to all while respecting environmental limits.

The session will focus on the following questions:

  • There is a need to mainstream true cost accounting at the national and subnational level. What are the challenges in making this happen?
  • How can one leverage TCA as a starting point for dialogues on priorities by quantifying hidden costs? How can one leverage stakeholder processes so as to address hidden costs?

True cost accounting facilitates the shaping of equitable food systems by examining jointly the economic, environmental, social, and health impacts of food. Evaluating the hidden costs and benefits of food systems helps identify and prioritize interventions to achieve desired outcomes. If appropriately designed to account for hidden costs in the social dimension, TCA can help prioritize the most vulnerable.



Jenn Yates
Ms. Jenn Yates

Director, True Cost Accounting Accelerator

Pavan Sukhdev
Mr. Pavan Sukhdev

CEO, GIST Impact

Franklin Mithika Linturi
H.E. Mr. Franklin Mithika Linturi

Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Kenya 

Fernanda Machiaveli
Ms. Fernanda Machiaveli

Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Rural Development and Family Farming, Brazil

Mr Jarot Indarto
Mr. Jarot Indarto

Director of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of National Development Planning/BAPPENAS, Indonesia

Mr. Alwin Kopse

Head of the International Affairs of the Federal Office of Agriculture, Swiss Confederation

Viktória Bourbon de Parme
Ms. Viktória Bourbon de Parme

Food Transformation Lead, World Benchmarking Alliance

Berry Marttin
Mr. Berry Marttin

Board Member, Rabobank

Lawrence Haddad
Mr. Lawrence Haddad

Executive Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition

Mr Máximo Torero Cullen
Mr. Máximo Torero Cullen

Chief Economist at FAO