The exact cost of food is not what we pay: It is far more!
Representational image of meat | Source: Photo by Charlie Solorzano on Unsplash
A new study from Augsburg University in Germany finds that the price of food that we pay at the cashier counter in the supermarket is not the exact costs of the product, it is much more! The most neglected cost involved in the production of food is the environmental damages that are continuously inflicted on the planet.
The study finds that conventionally produced foods of animal origin would much more expensive if the cost associated with climate impact is added to the pricing. Dairy products and meat products are expected to be 91% and 146% respectively more expensive than cost without consideration of environmental damage.
The study also made comparisons between different type of cultivations: Conventional production & Organic farming. It is observed that emission levels of organic farming are slightly lower than those of conventional production methods after adjustment for yield. Taking account of innately higher price of organic foods, organic dairy products and organic meat products are 40% and 71% respectively higher than the cost without consideration of environmental damage. The expected cost difference of food of plant origin is relatively low, which is in single digit, for both form of cultivations.
The study was carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Augsburg. They were primarily concerned with the climate impacts resulting from the production and consumption of food.
The study was based on the measurement of emission of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. It estimated which emissions occur at various points of food productions and allocates the emission to the specific food. It also takes account of the climatic effects of land-use change in their calculations. Later, based on emission quantities, its associated cost in terms of food-specific consequential costs is estimated. Finally, the study compared the consequential cost to the food prices and the cost currently observed in the market.
The study is published in in Nature Communications.