True cost accounting, true pricing in food
On October 10, 2017, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, in close co-operation with the Transition Coalition Food, hosted a seminar on True Cost Accounting and True Pricing in Food. The meeting report and presentations are now available in Dutch (presentation WERC, presentation Eosta and presentation The Sustainability Consortium).
A growing number of companies formulate ambitions and responsibilities for themselves in terms of social values. At the same time, the market is not (yet) designed to weigh public and social interests. The seminar raised the question how to correct this system error in the economy, in order to motivate more market parties and consumers to also contribute to societal impact. True cost accounting and true pricing can play a role in making external costs and benefits of companies and products transparent. This can guide companies and consumers. Various methods have been developed in recent years that provide insight into external effects in various ways and for a large number of variables.
The key publication presented at the meeting “Maatschappelijke effecten van voedsel – Een verkenning van een nieuwe methodiek” (“Societal effects of food: An exploration of a new methodology”) by Wageningen Economic Research and True Price, discusses a method which maps the various effects of food production and consumption and the relative size of those effects. 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 method also gives an insight into movements over the course of time.
The publication was also shared in a letter to Dutch parliament by the Minister of Economic Affairs, who expressed an interest to continue supporting multi-stakeholder debates on methods and data to assess the societal and environmental impact of the food production and consumption.