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Thursday, 01 December 2016

France tops 2016 Food Sustainability Index; India and Gulf nations face biggest challenges

  • France leads new food index, followed by Japan, with good performance for nutrition, food waste and agricultural sustainability.
  • India and Ethiopia face severe nutritional challenges, while Gulf nations and the US have the highest per-capita rates of food waste, and obesity.
  • Eight middle and upper-income countries face “hidden hunger” - micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A and/or iodine) - with lower scores than poorer countries.

France and Japan come top of a new index released by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) today. Excellent nutritional health, sustainable agricultural practices and proactive policies for reducing food waste contributed to their high position.

The 2016 Food Sustainability Index, developed with the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation, analyses agriculture, nutrition and food waste in 25 countries, who account for 87% of global GDP and 72% of the world’s population. It finds that France is the leader, with holistic food waste policies and high nutritional health the key factors contributing to its top score. Japan is ranked second, with strong performance for agricultural sustainability and nutritional health.

The index also identifies countries facing challenges. India is ranked bottom overall, given essential challenges such as the inadequate nutritional health of its population—it has the highest prevalence of stunting and wasting in children under the age of five—and unsustainable water management. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are ranked 24th and 22nd respectively, which reflects in part their excessive food waste per capita and high prevalence of obesity. The US also receives low scores for food waste and widespread prevalence of overweight people.

Other concerning trends are the high rates of micronutrient deficiency in middle- and upper-income countries. Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, Russia and Brazil all score in the bottom eight for micronutrient deficiencies, ranking below nations at lower-income levels (including South Africa, China, Indonesia and Colombia). Italy, Australia and Germany are ranked below poorer countries for iodine deficiencies.

The project also includes ‘City Monitor’, a pilot study which assembles indicators related to the dynamics of urban food systems.  

“Food and nutrition are at the core of the Sustainable Development Goals, impacting everything from inequality and sustainable consumption, to education, wellbeing and economic productivity,” says Lucy Hurst, the index research director.  “This index gives us the opportunity to look at three areas of food systems that we can all relate to—the quality of the food available to us, what we can do about food waste, and how critical sustainable agriculture is to providing enough food for us all. Learning from top performers can help countries meet their SDG targets”

Maria-Luiza Apostolescu, the index research manager, adds: “The results tell us that while no country has a perfect score in terms of sustainable food systems, many are making progress in different aspects of their food systems, such as providing access to healthy food for their populations, or designing innovative approaches to food-waste reduction that have wide support within communities.”

View Food Sustainability Index 2016 results and download report


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Maria-Luiza Apostolescu, index research manager

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About this project

The 2016 Food Sustainability Index (FSI) ranks the G20 plus six additional countries (Israel, Egypt, the UAE, Colombia, Ethiopia and Nigeria) for sustainability across three pillars: food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture, and nutrition.  It was developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation as part of a research programme commissioned by the latter. The white paper, Fixing Food, analyses the findings, supported by an interview programme with senior experts at institutions and companies including the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the French National Assembly.

About the EIU

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence. It is the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist newspaper. The Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives and policymakers to make better decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies. More information can be found at www.eiu.com or www.twitter.com/theeiu.

About the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation is a think-tank, founded in 2009, with the aim of analysing themes linked to food and nutrition globally. Through a multidisciplinary approach, BCFN analyses the cause and effect relationships between food and economic, scientific, social and environmental factors. For more information:www.barillacfn.com; www.protocollodimilano.it

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