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Nutrition study exposes: What do our foods really cost?

Nutrition study exposes: What do our foods really cost?



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Manufacturing costs and selling prices differ widely

There is a large discrepancy between the food prices that we pay in the supermarket and the costs that arise during production. An Augsburg study reveals the massive price difference that exists between the store price and the manufacturing costs. Consumers are left in the dark about the hidden costs. Are we paying too much or too little for our food?

Researchers at the University of Augsburg recently presented the results of their new study on the topic "How much is the dish - what do food really cost us?" At a Tollwood GmbH press conference for cultural and environmental activities. The research team examined how much certain foods actually cost and how much the consumer pays. In doing so, they uncovered a massive gap between production costs and actual consumer prices. The study results can be viewed on the Tollwood Society website.

Mispricing and market distortion

"Our study reveals a significant mispricing and thus market distortion due to the price difference between the current producer prices and the real costs," reports Dr. Tobias Gaugler from the Institute for Materials Resource Management (MRM) at the University of Augsburg in a press release on the study. The study reveals, among other things, what consumer prices should be based on, so that they are fairly linked to production costs.

Are we paying too much or too little?

The researchers uncovered massive costs that arise in the production of food, but are not currently included in the retail prices. "The highest external follow-up costs and thus the largest incorrect prices go hand in hand with the production of conventionally manufactured products of animal origin," explains Gaugler.

How Much Does Food Really Cost?

According to the results of the study, animal products from conventional agriculture would have to be subject to a surcharge of 196 percent to cover the actual production costs. This would make all conventional meat products three times more expensive than before. Conventional dairy products would also have to be twice as expensive to cover the actual costs (96 percent surcharge).

Which foods have the best ratio?

According to the Augsburg study, the best relationship between production costs and consumer prices for vegetable organic products. A surcharge of six percent could cover the costs of production here. In general, the cost ratio for organic food is somewhat more suitable for production. For example, a 35 percent surcharge would cover organic dairy products and an 82 percent surcharge would cover organic meat products.

Why are there such massive price distortions?

"For animal products, the level of external costs and surcharges can be explained in particular by the energy-intensive rearing of farm animals," writes the Augsburg team. Numerous follow-up costs arise during the rearing and keeping of the animals, which are not or only partially included in the final price. These would include the following factors, for example:

  • Feed cultivation,
  • Heating and ventilation of the stables,
  • Discharge of reactive nitrogen,
  • higher energy consumption than with plant products.

Why is the ratio better with organic food?

"The majority of the markups are attributable to the nitrogen driver, followed by greenhouse gases and energy," the study authors conclude. In organic food production, the absence of mineral nitrogen fertilizers for plant cultivation and the reduced use of industrial concentrate for livestock farming would result in a better consumer price-production cost ratio.

Has the market failed?

"For many negative impacts on the climate, environment and health that result from the production of food, neither agriculture nor consumers are currently responsible," emphasizes Dr. Gaugler. He sees the current price and market distortion as a market failure that must be countered with economic policy measures. As the researchers report, it can be assumed that the actual costs will differ even further, since unpredictable factors such as resistance to antibiotics and the ecological effects of using pesticides have not yet been included in the calculation.

Who pays?

"Ecological and social costs are paid by the community and not by the consumer", comments the managing director of the Schweisfurth Foundation Dr. Niels Kohlschütter. The prevailing prices have no relation to the truth. "It cannot be accepted that the costs of ecological damage in food production are not priced in and instead have to be paid by the general public," adds Stephanie Weigel from Tollwood GmbH. Consumers would be fooled. According to Weigel, many more people would buy organic products if all foods were awarded a final price that was appropriate for production, since they would then be hardly more expensive than conventional products.

A calculation example - what would consumers have to pay?

If the hidden costs that were uncovered in the study were added to the sales prices, the average price increases would be as follows:

  • Conventional animal products: + 3.57 euros per kilo
  • Organic animal products: + 2.83 euros per kilo
  • Conventional milk products: + 0.25 euros per kilo
  • organic milk products: + 0.17 euros per kilo
  • Conventional herbal products: + 0.04 euros per kilo
  • organic herbal products: +0.03 euros per kilo

(vb)

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