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.

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 

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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Institutions involved

People involved

Dominique Barjolle

Principal Investigator True Cost of Food Project, UNIL

Veronica Petrencu

Projects Coordinator & Research Fellow, UNIL & EPFL

Murielle Bochud

Chief Physician and Full Professor, Unisanté

Joachim Marti

Associate Professor of Health Economics, Unisanté

Philippe Thalmann

Associate Professor in Environmental Economics, EPFL

Gino Baudry

Scientific Collaborator, EPFL

Philipp Aerni

Professor and Director, Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

Theresa Tribaldos

Head of Just Economies and Human Well-being Impact Area, University of Bern

Thomas Brunner

Professor of Consumer Behavior, BFH-HAFL

Evelyn Markoni

Lecturer in Food Sociology, BFH-HAFL

Jean-Pierre Ghobril

Senior researcher, Unisanté

Agathe Crosnier

PhD Student, EPFL

Laurence Jeangros


Rolf Arnold

PhD Candidate, University of Bern

Franziska Goetze

Research Associate for Consumer Behavior, BFH-HAFL

Isa Cakir

Head of Sustainable Finance & Quantitative Methods, Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

Jovana Dikovic

Head of  Sustainable Impact and Inclusive Development, Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

Rosa Helena Schneider

Scientific Collaborator, CCRS Center for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

Sidney Lienhard

Research Assistant, Center for Corporate Responsability and Sustainability

Bárbara Franco Lucas

Scientific collaborator, BFH-HAFL

Kate Dassesse

PhD Student, Unisanté

Idriss Komi

PhD Student, Unisanté

Anna Nicolet

Research Fellow, Unisanté

Giulio Cisco

PhD Candidate in Health Economics, Unisanté

Julia Vincentini

PhD Student & Project Manager MENU-CH-Kids, Unisanté