Societal effects of food: An exploration of a new methodology
This publication (PDF in Dutch, English summary) by Wageningen Economic Research and True Price discusses a method to map the societal effects of food production and consumption and the relative size of those effects. It uses six capital categories: financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, natural and social and relationship capital, which are subdivided to cover all relevant societal effects of food. The first step is the estimation of the size of an average food product’s societal effect in each impact category. An average food product is defined as a product that can be included in an average Dutch shopping basket. The second step is the determination of the societal effect of specific food products relative to the average food product. The method has been validated with tests for five products that are part of a typical traditional Dutch diet, namely fresh green beans, potatoes, full-cream milk, minced beef from Dutch dairy cows and plain chocolate made from cocoa beans cultivated in Ivory Coast. The method can be used to identify the opportunities for the improvement of the most important positive effects and the mitigation of the most important negative effects. The business community can implement the method in arriving at carefully-considered decisions on the approach to improvements to the societal effects. Consumers can use the method in making carefully-considered decisions on the products they buy as determined by the importance they attach, for example, to the environment or to animal welfare. The method also gives an insight into movements over the course of time.
This publication was discussed during the seminar on true cost accounting and true pricing. This related report (PDF) discusses true cost accounting in the UK.