Transforming key industrial sectors

From farm to fork and beyond: a systemic approach for implementing the True Cost Accounting for Food in Switzerland

TRUE-COST-CH is an interdisciplinary project put together by a consortium of Swiss academic institutions and financed by the SNSF-SINERGIA grant for 2024-2027. Its main objective is to propose options for implementing True Cost Accounting for Food (TCAF), which evaluates the environmental, health and social impact of the food system in monetary terms. By applying this method to a number of food chains, the aim of the project is to bring stakeholders together to discuss the levers for the transition to a healthy, sustainable, resilient and fair food system.

About the project

The mission of the project is to contribute to the transformation of the Swiss food system by providing more comprehensive information about true cost accounting (TCA) for food. The project aims at understanding TCAF holistically in the Swiss context, by involving the different food system stakeholders. It identifies interdependencies and levers for change at different levels, including policy-making, the private sector, consumers, and public health, and the dynamic effects of possible TCAF interventions across the system. Eventually, the project would shift incentives towards more sustainable, healthy, and fair food for all.​ On the one hand, this project provides more comprehensive knowledge of the true cost of food through a Swiss-level TCAF calculator and through the applications of TCAF on individual supply chains. On the other hand, the project addresses external conditions for implementation through a participatory process, policy analysis, and consumer behavior.​ ​ The project takes an interdisciplinary, holistic, and systemic approach to food systems. Several disciplines (agriculture, public health, environmental engineering, economics, business and innovation, behavioral sciences, and international relations) will work together to achieve the above-mentioned goals.​

The consortium of partners

The consortium is currently composed of University of Lausanne (HEC and UNISANTE), EPFL (Laboratory for Environmental and Urban Economics – LEURE), HEG Fribourg (Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability), University of Bern (Centre for Development and Environment), and Bern University for Applied Sciences (School of Agriculture, Forest and Food Sciences, HAFL).

International TCAF experts and local business partners are also partnering in this initiative. The advisory board of the project is composed of ETHZ World Food Systems CenterFederal Office of Agriculture (OFAG), AgroscopeResearch Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), and Enterprise for Society Center.

This project received recognition through the approval of a CHF 3.2 million fund for 4 years by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SINERGIA grant). It initially received seed funding from Leenaards Foundation, Mercator Foundation, the CROSS (UNIL-EPFL) interdisciplinary grant and EPFL-Integrative Food and Nutrition Center

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