The True Cost of Food

Science, Conversation, Online

Series: Dispute TALKS

Science, Conversation

Series: Dispute TALKS

One litre of milk costs you roughly one Euro in Italy. In Switzerland you have to pay around 1.6 Swiss francs for the same amount. The prices are regulated by the principle of supply and demand, balancing out the receipt of state subsidies with economic expenditures and investment on the production, distribution and marketing side. Hence, the supply chain that structures transactions from start to finish – from the producer to the consumer – traditionally considers the produce merely in economic terms. For some time now, there has however been a growing awareness that food – its production, distribution, and consumption – needs a holistic approach. In this view, the mechanics of supply and demand are not the sole determining factor but are intertwined with vital social and environmental considerations – such as the value of natural resources, animal wellbeing, and individual health. But how do you actually measure the true cost of food and what implications does such change of mentality have for the food producing industry?

In view of the 2021 Food Systems Summit, the Istituto Svizzero invites in collaboration with Bites of Transfoodmation to the Dispute TALKS, offering a platform of exchange and reflection about the future of food production and consumption.

Bites of Transfoodmation is an initiative that brings together young motivated innovators that are ready to take, or have already taken, a leap into the future of food systems. Through their concrete experiences, they will compare different paths and look for common denominators indicating the way towards the future of food systems. The challenge will be to translate these bites of future into words in the form of a Transfoodmation manifesto accompanied by some lines of action. The ultimate goal is to create a movement of change and contribute to the outcome of the 2021 Food Systems Summit.

For further information.

The event will be held in English. Please register online to participate.


H18:30 – Welcome: Joëlle Comé, Director, Istituto Svizzero

H18:40 – Opening statements: Alessa Perotti, World Food System Center ETH Zürich, Peter Braun, CEO of Swissfoodresearch, and Riccardo Valentini, Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition and University of Tuscia.

H19:00 – Discussion moderated by Kathrin Hönegger, SRF Einstein



Peter Braun studied Process Engineering at Technical University Karlsruhe and is holding a PhD from ETH Zurich in the area of food processing and rheology. He worked 10 years for Kraft Foods holding several positions within process analysis and improvement in the field of cocoa and chocolate manufacturing. He continued his career with Bühler heading up Innovation, Technology and Construction in the area of Cocoa & Chocolate for the last 14 years. Since 2013 he is managing Swiss Food Research, the Swiss Innovation Network in the Agro-Food area as CEO. He is also lecturer at ETH Zurich in the area of Food Process Engineering and president of SVIAL, the Swiss professional association of Agriculture & Food Scientist.

Alessa Perotti studied Food Science at ETH Zurich, writing her master thesis on the true cost of food in Switzerland. A Bites of Transfoodmation Young Transformer and member of the Landwirtschaft mit Zukunft nutrition parliament, Alessa is actively involved in increasing awareness on the true cost of food in Switzerland.

Riccardo Valentini is Professor at University of Tuscia DIBAF and CMCC Foundation Strategic Advisor. Valentini is Director of the Division of Climate Impact at the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Changes. He received the 2007 Nobel Peace Price, with his team, for activities within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He was a researcher at the University of Tuscia, the Department of Plant Biology of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission. Since 2000, he is Professor at the University of Tuscia in the Department of Science of the Forest Environment and its Resources and has been Director of the department since 2002. He is currently leading the Smart Urban Nature Lab at the RUDN University in Moscow under the Russian Scientific Foundation. His research activity focuses on subjects in ecology, in agricultural-forest systems, and issues connected with implementing international conventions for global environmental protection. He is a pioneer in the research about the role of agricultural-forest systems in climate change and the greenhouse effect. His work has been published in prestigious scientific international publications such as Science and Nature.

Kathrin Hönegger is a Swiss journalist and presenter. She is a trained actress and completed the journalism courses at the MAZ Lucerne. She works for Radio SRF3 as an editor and presenter of several programmes, such as the talk show Focus. Since 2013 she has been conducting the scientific programme Einstein on SRF. She is also an author and moderates readings, panels and conferences between art, culture and science.