Food Systems Transformation Briefs
Using the Food Systems Dashboard
Using the Food Systems Dashboard to examine the food supply, nutrition, and health outcomes in Kenya & Tanzania
Using the Food Systems Dashboard to examine sugar in the food supply in Gabon
Using the Food Systems Dashboard to examine the double burden of malnutrition in India
Using the Food Systems Dashboard to better understand dietary changes and the multiple forms of malnutrition across Asia
Using the Food Systems Dashboard to examine environmental interactions with food systems
The Food Systems Dashboard is a new tool to inform better food policy
The Food Systems Dashboard brings together extant data from public and private sources to help decision makers understand their food systems, identify their levers of change and decide which ones need to be pulled.
You Say You Want a Data Revolution? Taking on Food Systems Accountability
Dramatic improvements in data availability and quality are needed to meet the challenge of monitoring and analyzing food systems, so that appropriate policies and actions to improve human and planetary health can be identified and data-informed accountability mechanisms put in place to strengthen food systems governance. Studying food systems is complex due to diverse actors and interlinking processes that operate on multiple spatial and temporal scales, and their multiple outcomes, which may be subject to hidden feedback mechanisms and tradeoffs. However, descriptive research to characterize food system components and make comparisons across geography, income groups, and population groups is an important foundation. The first part of this article details a series of critical data gaps and limitations that are currently hindering food systems learning and accountability, also comparing these gaps across regions and income groups. The second part of the article introduces the Food Systems Dashboard, a new data visualization tool that aims to improve access to and usage of food systems-related data, thus strengthening the data value chain and better informing policies and actions intended to improve diets, nutrition, livelihoods, and environmental sustainability.
Building a Global Food Systems Typology: A New Tool for Reducing Complexity in Food Systems Analysis
Food systems have a profound impact on diets, nutrition, health, economic development, and environmental sustainability. Yet their complexity poses a persistent challenge in identifying the policy actions that are needed to improve human and planetary health outcomes. Typologies are a useful classification tool to identify similarities and differences among food systems, while reducing this analytical complexity. This study presents a new food system typology, implemented at the country level using parsimonious data that characterize food supply chains, food environments, consumer-related factors, and key outcomes, including dietary intake, nutritional status, health, and environmental impacts. Five food system types are identified: rural and traditional; informal and expanding; emerging and diversifying; modernizing and formalizing; and industrial and consolidated. Patterns across the five system types in key outcome variables align with narratives provided by the food systems and nutrition transition literature, demonstrating the usefulness of this classification method. Substantial heterogeneity nonetheless still exists within individual food system types. Therefore, the recommended use of the typology is in early stages of hypothesis generation, to identify potential risk factors or constraints in the food system that can be explored further at national and sub-national levels.
Diagnosing the performance of food systems to increase accountability toward healthy diets and environmental sustainability
To reorient food systems to ensure they deliver healthy diets that protect against multiple forms of malnutrition and diet-related disease and safeguard the environment, ecosystems, and natural resources, there is a need for better governance and accountability. However, decision-makers are often in the dark on how to navigate their food systems to achieve these multiple outcomes. Even where there is sufficient data to describe various elements, drivers, and outcomes of food systems, there is a lack of tools to assess how food systems are performing. This paper presents a diagnostic methodology for 39 indicators representing food supply, food environments, nutrition outcomes, and environmental outcomes that offer cutoffs to assess performance of national food systems. For each indicator, thresholds are presented for unlikely, potential, or likely challenge areas. This information can be used to generate actions and decisions on where and how to intervene in food systems to improve human and planetary health. A global assessment and two country case studies—Greece and Tanzania—illustrate how the diagnostics could spur decision options available to countries.
Global food systems transitions have enabled affordable diets but had less favourable outcomes for nutrition, environmental health, inclusion and equity
Over the past 50 years, food systems worldwide have shifted from predominantly rural to industrialized and consolidated systems, with impacts on diets, nutrition and health, livelihoods, and environmental sustainability. We explore the potential for sustainable and equitable food system transformation (ideal state of change) by comparing countries at different stages of food system transition (changes) using food system typologies. Historically, incomes have risen faster than food prices as countries have industrialized, enabling a simultaneous increase in the supply and affordability of many nutritious foods. These shifts are illustrated across five food system typologies, from rural and traditional to industrial and consolidated. Evolving rural economies, urbanization and changes in food value chains have accompanied these transitions, leading to changes in land distribution, a smaller share of agri-food system workers in the economy and changes in diets. We show that the affordability of a recommended diet has improved over time, but food systems of all types are falling short of delivering optimal nutrition and health outcomes, environmental sustainability, and inclusion and equity for all. Six ‘outlier’ case studies (Tajikistan, Egypt, Albania, Ecuador, Bolivia and the United States of America) illustrate broad trends, trade-offs and deviations. With the integrated view afforded by typologies, we consider how sustainable transitions can be achieved going forward.