Economía Agroalimentaria

Hidden costs of agrifood systems and recent trends from 2016 to 2023

Background paper for The State of Food and Agriculture 2023
Año: 2023
Autor(es): Lord, S.
Editor: FAO

FAO Agricultural Development Economics Technical Study, No. 31.

This background paper to The State of Food and Agriculture 2023 examines the annual hidden costs of agrifood systems across 2016–2023 for 154 countries. Hidden costs include environmental hidden costs from greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen emissions, land-use transitions, and blue water withdrawals; social hidden costs associated with undernourishment and poverty; and health hidden costs from unhealthy dietary patterns. The expected value of hidden costs is around 13 trillion 2020 purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars. This is equivalent to approximately 10 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) PPP in 2023 and around 35 billion 2020 PPP dollars per day.

Environmental hidden costs averaged around 3 trillion 2020 PPP dollars over the 2016–2023 period; health-related costs averaged 9.3 trillion 2020 PPP dollars; and social hidden costs averaged 560 billion 2020 PPP dollars. Health hidden costs are the largest across all world regions, apart from sub-Saharan Africa, where costs from poverty and undernourishment prevail. Hidden costs also report an upward trend from 2016 to 2023, driven primarily by health hidden costs.

Overall, hidden costs place a disproportionate burden on low-income countries. Left unchecked, these hidden costs will depress future growth and development. However, these hidden costs do not reflect the GDP PPP loss that may be avoided by transitioning to more sustainable agrifood systems. In other words, while these may be avoidable, the quantified hidden costs do not indicate the costs of transitioning to alternative systems. Subsequent studies are needed to quantify these.

Tipo de documento: Estudio técnico
Región: Global
ISBN: 978-92-5-138355-1
ISSN: 2521-7259 (online) / 2521-7240 (print)