Revealing hidden costs within agrifood systems to drive change.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has released its annual report this month, “The State of Food and Agriculture 2023: Revealing the true cost of food to transform agrifood systems.” This year’s report is a first-of-its-kind effort to implement true cost accounting (TCA) to disaggregate costs at a national level for 154 countries.
True Cost Accounting is an approach to examining food systems that helps those in power make better decisions. Specifically, “it is defined as a holistic and systemic approach to measure and value the environmental, social, health and economic costs and benefits generated by agrifood systems to facilitate improved decisions by policymakers, businesses, farmers, investors and consumers.” A significant finding from this report is the estimate that current hidden costs across the agrifood sector total approximately $10 trillion, making a strong case for governments to take concerted mitigating actions.
For the first time in this publication’s history, the FAO will dedicate two years of this report’s release to the same topic. This year’s report presents initial estimates, which can be used as a call to action, a tool to raise awareness, and a resource to spark discussion and dialogue between various stakeholder groups, across government, policy, research, private sector and consumers. The 2024 report, or “Phase Two,” will build on these initial findings to guide policy actions and interventions.
Read the report