What we do

The Food Prices for Nutrition project is a four-year, $3 million effort (Oct. 2020 – Sept. 2024) to equip governments and development agencies with accurate, updated metrics to monitor diet costs and affordability to inform agricultural and food systems interventions. Our data and methods underlie the FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO’s estimate that about 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet, as published in their SOFI annual reports and used to frame the summary statement of action from the 2021 UN Food System Summit.

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 combines existing datasets to measure the cost and affordability of each step up in diet quality, based the prices and nutritional composition of items available in local markets. The resulting metrics provide an operational measure of access to healthy diets, for use in monitoring retail food supplies delivered by global and national food systems. The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UKAid from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as INV-016158, and implemented by a dedicated team at Tufts, IFPRI and the World Bank.

The diet cost metrics we use, as summarized on the metrics page, measure the magnitude of the barriers preventing people from accessing diets that meet their needs. Our work has been widely disseminated in peer-reviewed journal articles and dialogue with international agencies and national governments.  Since 2021 our work has been included in the suite of food security indicators monitored globally, for example in the UNFSS Coalition on Healthy Diets whose measurable goal is to halve the number of people who cannot afford a healthy diet.

Food Prices for Nutrition is implemented by three complementary partners, in pursuit of the project purpose and four objectives summarized by this figure:

Food Prices for Nutrition builds on two previous projects at Tufts University, Changing Access to Nutritious Diets in Africa and South Asia (CANDASA, 2017-20) and Indicators of Affordability for Nutritious Diets in Africa (IANDA, 2015-17), with close links to a variety of related work at other institutions. The project is led by William Masters with Anna Herforth and a diverse team at Tufts University, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the Development Data group 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.

Through this project we aim to support the use of food prices by national governments, international organizations, educational institutions, and civil society, using new metrics to transform food systems and achieve global development goals for nutrition and health. Our whole team is listed here. We look forward to working with you!

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