France remains at the top of the 2017 Food Sustainability Index (FSI), which ranks 34 countries according to their food system sustainability
All the countries represent more than 85 per cent of global GDP and two-thirds of the global population.
The FSI was developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Centre for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN) as part of a research programme commissioned by BCFN.
According to BCFN, France remains the world leader in food sustainability as the country scored highest across the FSI's three pillars, which are food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture and nutritional challenges. France’s performance is strong in the food loss and waste category.
In a world where a third of all food produced globally is either lost or discarded, France has been in the vanguard of policies and measures to reduce such losses.
Top-performing countries in the FSI also include Japan, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, South Korea and Hungary. These countries demonstrate 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, according to the FSI.
In spite of having the highest GDP per head, the UAE ranks last, while Ethiopia, the poorest country in the FSI, ranks 12th. In common with other countries in the Arab world, the UAE has a high level of food waste, rising levels of obesity and receives a low score for sustainable agriculture, reflecting a scarcity of water and subsequent reliance on depleting aquifers and expensive desalination plants.
The US ranks 21st in the overall FSI and achieves 31st place in sustainable agriculture.
Martin Koehring, managing editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said, “Sustainable food systems are vital in achieving the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 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 FSI is an important tool to help policymakers and other relevant stakeholders to design effective policies to improve food system sustainability.”