Commitments to action

Initiative on the True Value of Food

WBCSD, GAIN, Rabobank, FAO, Global Alliance for the Future of Food, Rockefeller Foundation, the Impact Institute

The “hidden costs” of the global food system amount to USD $19.8 trillion per year (Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit, 2021) – $7tn environmental costs, $11tn costs to health, and $1tn in direct health costs. These costs, including high rates of diet-related chronic disease, the impacts of climate change and unfair wages are not included in prices and profits, and thus ignored by markets. Often, these costs are borne by people who did not have a say: the least advantaged segments of society (frequently smallholder farmers, youth, women, indigenous peoples, people of color, marginalized communities) and by future generations.

At the same time, the global food system has many hidden benefits that are also not fully reflected in food prices: healthy food is a basic need with many economic and social benefits, and well-functioning food systems allow farmers and workers to earn a decent livelihood.

By creating transparency about the costs and benefits and applying appropriate incentives and disincentives across food systems, we can ensure more sustainable, healthful and fairer food systems in future and create real value for economic growth, society and businesses.

This action will include developing a new economic basis for decision making – one that accounts for the True Value of Food. This new basis will guide the decisions made by – consumers, businesses, financial institutions, investors and policy-makers towards more positive outcomes for people, the planet and prosperity.

Integrating these elements into national food systems plans and creating a supportive policy environment for the implementation of strategies and actions to protect our people, planet and prosperity will require coordinated action by all food systems stakeholders.

The Initiative on the True Value of Food represents a community of experienced experts who stand ready to support country efforts to consider, trial, implement and evaluate true cost, value and price of food actions and policy change.

This group will:

  • Lead, facilitate, gather and build a network of people and groups working in this area
  • Establish the messaging around the need to measure and put values to the costs and benefits for investable proposals for change
  • Describe the difference adopting true cost, value and pricing can have
  • Advance the research and methodology development and support impact assessment


Civil society
Private sector

Action Area(s)




Key contact

Matthew Watkins, WBCSD
[email protected]


True value of food



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