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The “hidden costs” of our food

The Sustainable Food Trust have calculated that for every £1 we spend on food it costs us an extra £1 in hidden charges.

The extra costs incurred by UK consumers include production related expenses and diet-related diseases. Surprisingly, farm support only costs UK consumers 2.5p per £1.


The report was released this week by Sustain member The Sustainable Food Trust and shows that this ‘shadow economy’ costs taxpayers £120 billion a year.


The findings of the report break down these extra hidden costs as follows:


A high proportion of these extra costs are paid by UK consumers through tax, water charges, private healthcare insurance and lost income.


Patrick Holden, CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust, says that we have been lead to believe that food is cheap, but we are not fully taking into account these hidden costs:

“The current UK food system thrives only because it does not account for the full costs of production or consumption, which are paid for in hidden ways.

Those who pollute or degrade do not pay for the damage they cause. Conversely, those who farm more sustainably are forced to cover the higher cost of producing food in more beneficial ways. This means there is no business case for producers to adopt more sustainable approaches. The government can and must factor in these hidden costs and benefits in developing post-Brexit food and farming policies.”  


You can read a summary of the report here.

Food and Farming Policy


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Food and Farming Policy: Sustain encourages integration of sustainable food and farming into local, regional and national government policies.



Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.