What are the true costs of diets on the society and on the planet?


To create a positive enabling environment for food choices, it is first necessary to understand their current impacts and which diets and food systems are desirable taking into account environmental, socio-economic and health perspectives.  

True Cost Accounting (TCA) is a novel approach to analyse externalities holistically under different supply chain scenarios and to help identify strategies for reducing these hidden, but real costs. 

Having the systems approach in its foundation, TCA deviates from conventional silo approaches (e.g., improvements of crop production through extensive use of fertiliser without consideration for human health or environmental contamination).  

For the first time TCA will be applied to diets allowing to reveal the significant but unaccounted impacts on natural, social and human capitals that must be considered in order to shift to sustainable, healthy, socially acceptable and cost-effective diets. 

Holistic food systems interventions and policies are difficult to define and vary across regions. Hence TCA will play a key role by: 

  1. Allowing for a comparison and understanding of different health, social and sustainability issues.  
  2. enabling policymakers to zoom in on the range and magnitude of impacts from food and food systems and identify priority intervention areas. 
  3. identifying pathways for transformational change in government, business, farming and consumer contexts



The transition towards healthy and sustainable dietary behaviour is a joint effort which requires the active involvement of all food value chain actors, from primary production to catering. To adopt a participatory approach and to ensure that the food value chain solutions developed in PLAN’EAT will not be hindered by the EU market competition, 5 pan-European Consultation and Working Groups (CWGs) will be created from Farm to Fork, with members operating in the 11 different EU countries represented in the project: Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden.   

Are you operating in one of these countries, and are you interested in knowing more?  Contact our CWG leaders! 


In 2021, more than 65 European companies and associations have committed to accelerate their contribution to a sustainable transition, by signing the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices. Several initiatives are already implemented by food system actors to shape healthy, sustainable and accessible food environments. To support the multi-stakeholder approach of the EU Code of Conduct, PLAN’EAT will co-design, test and evaluate tailored interventions, tools and strategies whereby each actor can engage in the transition towards healthy and sustainable consumption patterns.