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Global Alliance Releases True Cost Accounting Assessment of Six Beacons of Hope


New Report Shows Significant Positive Impacts of ‘True Cost” Policy on Diverse Group of Food Producers and Organizations

Benefits Span Progress On Issues from Climate and Health to Gender 

Thursday, 14 October 2021 – The Global Alliance for the Future of Food today released a sweeping assessment of the positive impacts of “True Cost Accounting” on global food systems. From Lagos, Zambia, the Philippines, Malawi, India, and the Americas; spanning farmer collaboratives, food banks, government agencies, researchers, and social enterprises, the report shows significant benefits of assessing the “true value” of an organization’s impacts on society, people, and the environment. 

True Cost Accounting (TCA) is an innovative tool that provides a holistic approach to assess, measure, and value all externalities — the positive and negative impacts — of food systems. In this assessment, conducted by TMG Think Tank for Sustainability, who specialize in true cost accounting assessments for the agrifood sector, an inclusive and true cost evaluation approach is applied to six food system initiatives from around the world. 

The assessment presents powerful and compelling evidence that food systems transformation is possible, and having impact now. The assessments revealed the significant monetary and non-monetary benefits sustainable food systems have on issues like health, biodiversity conservation, climate, workers’ rights community well-being, and gender empowerment. They also showed how TCA, as a holistic measurement tool, can be used for a variety of organizations — from businesses, farmer cooperatives, food banks, research facilities, and more.

“The six initiatives assessed in this report truly are ‘beacons of hope,’” said Ruth Richardson, Executive Director of the Global Alliance. “Their success as food system actors embracing sustainability, agroecology, and cooperation shows that you can do right by doing good. This study reveals the dramatic benefits of TCA, and the inspiring impact of food system champions.” 

Each of the 6 case studies was selected from the Beacons of Hope initiative, which showcases organizations addressing food systems challenges in creative and systemic ways. 

  • COMACO, “Community Markets for Conservation,” is a social enterprise that supports the local community in the Luangwa Valley of Zambia to adopt agroforestry, aiming to end wildlife poaching, deforestation, and food insecurity. There, the assessment showed significant impacts of COMACO’s carbon offset schemes. 
  • The Common Market, based in the Eastern United States, aggregates wholesale fruits, vegetables, animal products, and artisanal goods from small farms and then distributes them to regional vendors, mostly public and private institutions. The assessment showed multiple benefits of the organization’s work in sustainable procurement and building regional networks that are able to quickly read and respond to local agricultural needs.
  • Community Managed Natural Farming in India is an innovative program in Andhra Pradesh to implement a method called Natural Farming, which is farming without the addition of synthetic fertilizer or pesticides. The assessment showed reductions in pollution and emissions and better wages and earnings for farmers. 
  • MASIPAG, the “Farmer–Scientist Partnership for Development,” is a decentralized farmer-led network of 50,000 small growers in the Philippines who farm ecologically for subsistence and local market sale. There, the assessment showed how small farmer networks create resilience across culture, agriculture, ecosystems, and the economy. 
  • Lagos Food Bank Initiative is a hunger-relief organization based in Nigeria. LFBI uses a food banking system to support meaningful community nutrition while also maintaining health and sustainability through urban farming, maternal health, and improved school outcomes. Here the assessment showed the benefits of partnership with local businesses to reduce food waste and food insecurity.
  • Soils, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC) is a farmer-led nonprofit based in Malawi. Weaving farmer participation and gender equity with goals of food security, child nutrition, and soil fertility, SFHC builds more equal and resilient Malawian communities. The assessment showed progress across multiple measures, from climate resilience to community health to improved gender equity. 

“Every Beacon of Hope assessed through this study is acting to address pressing global challenges such as climate breakdown, migration, urbanization, and the need for more sustainable economies, lifestyles, and diets each and every day,” said Alexander Müller, Founder and CEO of TMG Think Tank for Sustainability. “By moving to measure and track these diverse food system actors, we make change visible, and better understand their impacts across environmental, social, human, and economic measures.”  

This report is a call to action for food system actors to unlock and accelerate the positive impacts of food systems by embracing holistic approaches to measuring and accounting for their true value,” said Richardson. “It is time to retire metrics that don’t measure what matters and that are allowing, enabling, and encouraging food systems practices to go beyond planetary limits.” 



The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is a strategic alliance of philanthropic foundations working together and with others to transform global food systems now and for future generations. We believe in the urgency of transforming global food systems, and in the power of working together and with others to effect positive change. Food systems reform requires new and better solutions at all scales through a systems-level approach and deep collaboration among philanthropy, researchers, grassroots movements, the private sector, farmers and food systems workers, Indigenous Peoples, government, and policymakers. 

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