Skip to main content
Food System Institute logo
Food System Institute logo

Metrics & Tools for Systems Analysis and Decision Support Cross-Cutting Approach


Decision makers across the different components of the food value chain, ranging from growers and producers to policymakers and consumers, constantly shape the food system through their actions and interactions. They are faced with challenging situations that require them to evaluate trade-offs and to act based on the information that they have available. Developing and/or disseminating valid, actionable, and reliable information, metrics, and tools is, therefore, a key requisite to support and inform this decision-making process so that the outcomes are sustainable.

Quantitative and qualitative data science and analytics, from natural and social sciences, are used for developing advanced computer-based tools, models, and decision support systems to provide evidence-information to all types of decision makers within the food value chain. From the farmer that has to identify the optimal time to plant his crop, to the food processor that must ensure that the produce is maintained at the right temperature, to the policymakers that wish to establish enabling environments where food systems are vibrant and sustainable, all can benefit from supporting their decision-making processes with the most accurate, relevant, and timely information.

The goal of this cross-cutting theme is to actively promote the development, dissemination, and adoption of the best methodologies, approaches, tools, indicators, and criteria to support decision-making, understand how those decisions affect the structure and processes, and assess the impacts of decisions and their associated changes in regards to “providing safe and nutritious food for a teeming global population while enhancing livelihoods, societies, and the environment.”

Areas of Interest

  • How do the different components of the food system interact across multiple disciplines and sectors?
  • Can we develop computer-based tools to model these components of the food system?
  • How do we define sustainability and how we know if the food system is sustainable, efficient, fair, economically viable, or resilient?
  • Can we define and develop unique metrics and tools for sustainability of food systems?
  • What are the important indicators for environmental health, community and family conditions, health and safety, tax revenue, profitability, free trade, poverty, malnutrition, rule of law, etc.?
  • What are the key factors influencing the quality and effectiveness of policies and regulations, technological innovations, social interventions, etc.?
  • Which investments will have the greatest impact in promoting sustainable food systems (e.g., infrastructure, genetic research, disease control, market analysis, community structure, information technology, education, etc.)?

FSI Leads for the Metrics and Tools Cross-Cutting Approach:

Sebastian Galindo
Gerrit Hoogenboom