Topical Area: Global Nutrition
Objectives : Food price data is routinely collected by governments but has not been utilized to its full potential for tracking the cost of nutritious diets. Food prices typically are used to monitor the cost of a basket of goods purchased by consumers, which may bear little relation to recommended diets. National food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) attempt to provide specific, actionable recommendations for diets that meet nutritional needs and protect long-term health, based on expert evidence review and in-country dialogue. The objective of this research is to show how governments can use their food price data to track the cost of meeting FBDG.
Methods : The Cost of Recommended Diets (CoRD) is an estimate of the minimum cost of meeting FBDG. It requires data on food prices and quantitative FBDG. Food price data can be sourced from national statistical organizations that track inflation using a Consumer Price Index (CPI); from ministries of food/agriculture/trade; and from national household budget surveys. CoRD is calculated by identifying the least-cost 2-3 foods (by edible portion) in each food category contained in FBDG (e.g. starchy staples, protein foods, dairy, fruits, vegetables, oils), and summing the mean cost of obtaining the average gram amounts of each group. We demonstrate the results of CoRD using data from Ghana. A stakeholder dialogue was conducted with official food price data collectors in Ghana in 2016-2018 on the applicability of CoRD within existing monitoring systems.
Results : Using data from the Ghana Statistical Service and the Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), we find that meeting FBDG for vegetables and fruits is relatively expensive compared to starchy staples and the cheapest forms of protein foods, and that consumers typically underspend on fruits and vegetables compared to the expenditure shares required to obtain recommended amounts. MoFA has made changes in their food price monitoring system to enable tracking of CoRD.
Conclusions : The CoRD indicator is a policy-coherent metric of food prices that measures the cost of meeting FBDG. It rests on existing data and can be incorporated into national food price monitoring systems.
Funding Sources :
Funding for this work is provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and DFID, partially through an IMMANA (Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions) grant.