Économie agroalimentaire

Agrifood Economics data on cost and affordability of a healthy diet becomes latest food security and nutrition indicator to feature on FAOSTAT


Indicators on the cost and affordability of a healthy diet (CoAHD) developed under the technical leadership of the Agrifood Economics Division are now available for all countries on the Organization’s data hub, FAOSTAT, signalling a major step forward in policy evidence on food security and nutrition for FAO Members.

The move to institutionalize and include CoAHD data on FAO’s main data portal cements the importance of the new indicators for governments, policymakers and researchers alike. Through data visualisation and a solid methodology, FAOSTAT now provides insight into how many people have physical and economic access to a healthy diet (adequate calories and essential nutrients and food groups) for an active and healthy life.

In addition to showing the cost of a healthy diet and the number of individuals unable to afford one at the global, regional or country level, CoAHD data on FAOSTAT also breaks down the cost per country of a healthy diet by six food groups: the cost of vegetables, fruits, oils and fats, starchy staples, animal-source foods, and legumes nuts and seeds.

The new data set comes at a critical time. While the world has made progress towards providing enough calories to feed the global population, there are still almost 3.1 billion people who cannot afford a healthy diet of nutrient-rich food aligned with dietary guidelines, highlighting a long road still to go to sustainably nourishing everyone, everywhere. Indeed, the latest regional indicators show that Latin America and the Caribbean has the highest cost of a healthy diet compared to other regions, at 3.89 per person per day.

Director of FAO’s Agrifood Economics Division (ESA) David Laborde said: “Putting an end to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms (including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity) is about more than securing enough food to survive: What people eat must also be nutritious. Yet a key obstacle is the high cost of nutritious foods and the low affordability of healthy diets for vast numbers of people around the world”.

The drive to integrate CoAHD data into FAOSTAT and for the indicators – developed by FAO, Tufts University and the World Bank – to become the world’s markers on economic access to a healthy diet, is part of a wider set of activities that will contribute to achieving one of four of FAO’s objectives within its Strategic Framework 2022–31 – Better Nutrition. The analysis is also the backbone of one of FAO’s flagship annual reports, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, a multi-agency publication by FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ever since we started publishing these indicators through the 2020 edition of the SOFI report, we continue to see that people without access to healthy diets live in all regions of the world; thus, we are facing a global problem that affects us all. To deepen our analyses and guide policy, we are starting to estimate the cost and affordability of a healthy diet at subnational level”, said Marco V. Sánchez, Deputy Director of ESA, who also led The State of Food Security in the World 2022 report on behalf of FAO.