This background paper of the Impact Economy Foundation and True Price Foundation to the Flagship The State of Food and Agriculture 2023 of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) introduces true cost accounting (TCA) as an approach to measure and value the costs and benefits generated by agrifood systems in order to facilitate improved decision-making. The paper is based on a systematic review of existing TCA approaches and of relevant case studies in agrifood systems. Guidance on conducting TCA is provided, especially in relation to data collection. The paper ends with a discussion on scaling and harmonizing TCA for agrifood systems transformation.
The recent development of true cost accounting (TCA) methodologies by various organizations has helped increase transparency in the food sector, but has also made it difficult to compare the results obtained through different methodologies. This article published in nature food reviews major TCA methodologies across five functional unitis that their assessment framework(s) apply to: product, organization, system, geography and investment. Results show that the bulk of existing frameworks apply to products and/ or organizations.
Ensuring sustainable food systems requires vastly reducing its environmental and health costs while making healthy and sustainable food affordable to all. One of the central problems of current food systems is that many of the costs of harmful foods are externalized. At the same time, the benefits of healthful foods are not appreciated. This paper sets out the results of an analysis to determine the current cost of externalities in the food system and the potential impact of a shift in diets to more healthy and sustainable production and consumption patterns.