France tops Food Sustainability Index yet again

Friday, 08 December, 2017

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The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) 2017 has been released, ranking 34 countries according to their food system sustainability. These countries represent over 85% of global GDP and two-thirds of the global population.

The FSI was developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN) as part of a research program commissioned by BCFN. It aims to investigate the key issues impacting food sustainability across three pillars: food loss and waste; sustainable agriculture; and nutritional challenges.

Repeating its success from 2016, France remains the world leader in food sustainability thanks to high scores across the FSI’s three pillars. Its performance was found to be particularly strong in the food loss and waste category, making it the clear leader in a world where one-third of all food produced globally is either lost or discarded.

Top-performing countries also include Japan, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, South Korea and Hungary. These countries typically demonstrate strong and effectively implemented government policy on food waste and loss, environmental conservation in agricultural practices, innovations in agriculture, and nutrition education.

Although high-income countries tend to perform well in the FSI, there are several outliers. Despite having the highest GDP per head, the UAE ranks last, reflecting a high level of food waste, rising levels of obesity and little opportunity for sustainable agriculture. Ethiopia, the poorest country in the FSI, meanwhile ranks a respectable 12th — two spots ahead of Australia.

The land down under ranked highly for food loss and waste thanks to high scores for both the food loss and end-user waste categories. The country scored more moderately for sustainable agriculture, with a high score for the water resources category counteracted by a weaker performance across the land use (particularly on agricultural diversification) and air categories. Australia’s score for nutritional challenges was also middling, as low and middling scores in the dietary patterns and life expectancy categories, respectively, mitigated a strong showing in the life quality category.

The US, meanwhile, languishes in 21st place in the overall FSI, coming in 31st place in terms of sustainable agriculture and 24th in terms of nutritional challenges, dragged down by elevated levels of consumption of meat and saturated fat. Furthermore, the sugar content of diets in the US was the highest among the 34 countries in the study.

“Sustainable food systems are vital in achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, notably ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030,” said EIU Managing Editor Martin Koehring. “However, major global developments such as climate change, rapid urbanisation, tourism, migration flows and the shift towards Westernised diets put food systems under pressure. The Food Sustainability Index is an important tool to help policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to design effective policies to improve food system sustainability.”

More details on the findings, scope and methodology can be found at

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