Many policies and programs aim to help agriculture and food systems bring healthier diets within reach, but lack standardized data about the cost and affordability of nutritious foods at each time and place. The Food Prices for Nutrition (FPN) project is a four-year, $3 million effort (Oct. 2020 – Sept. 2024) to equip governments and development agencies with accurate, updated metrics of diet costs and affordability around the world. This work is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UKAid from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as INV-016158.
Food Prices for Nutrition aims to scale up use of new price indexes and diet cost metrics developed by a project on Changing Access to Nutritious Diets in Africa and South Asia (CANDASA, 2017-20), building on a previous research grant from UKAid entitled Indicators of Affordability for Nutritious Diets in Africa (IANDA, 2015-17). Our work provided the data on food prices and diet costs for the UN agencies’ SOFI 2020 report launched in July 2020, and has been widely disseminated in scholarly journal articles and dialogue with international agencies and national governments.
The need for this project, and the specific metrics we have developed and applied to guide action, are illustrated by the figure below. Our work identifies how food prices create a ladder of diet qualities that are affordable to a given population at each time and place. The diet cost metrics we use, as summarized in the methods section of our SOFI report, measure the height of diet cost barriers that limit the diet quality that people could potentially buy. This measures whether the food system at each time and place brings healthy diets within reach of the poor, as a complement to other research about peoples’ food choices among the options they can afford.
The FPN project will promote use of food prices to measure diet costs and affordability through close collaboration between Tufts University, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Comparison Programme (ICP) global office at the World Bank. We also collaborate actively with a wide range of other partners in selected countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania, supporting work on whether and how local and regional food systems bring healthy diets within reach.
The purpose and operations of our project are summarized by this figure:
Through the workstreams shown above, FPN will support the use of food prices by national governments, international organizations, educational institutions and civil society to guide agriculture and food systems towards improved nutrition and health. Our whole team is listed here. We look forward to working with you!