28 Dec 2017


● France remains in first place in the 2017 edition of the Food Sustainability Index (FSI), followed by Japan and Germany, with good performance across the FSI's three pillars (food loss and waste; sustainable agriculture; and nutritional challenges).

● Although richer countries tend to perform well in the FSI, high-income UAE ranks last, while low-income Ethiopia ranks a respectable 12th.

● The US languishes in 21st place, due to low scores for sustainable agriculture and nutritional challenges.

http://foodsustainability.eiu.com/Repeating its success from 2016, France remains at the top of the 2017 Food Sustainability Index (FSI), which ranks 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 with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN) as part of a research programme commissioned by BCFN and unveiled during the 8° International Forum on Food & Nutrition. 

France remains the world leader in food sustainability thanks to high scores across the FSI's three pillars: food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture, and nutritional challenges. Its performance is particularly strong in the food loss and waste category. In a world where a third of all food produced globally is either lost or discarded, according to estimates from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, 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 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, while Ethiopia, the poorest country in the FSI, ranks a respectable 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.

Meanwhile, the US languishes in 21st place in the overall FSI. The country achieves only a dismal 31st place in sustainable agriculture. In terms of nutritional challenges, the US ranks 24th, dragged down by elevated levels of consumption of meat and saturated fat. Moreover, the sugar content of diets in the US is the highest among the 34 countries in our study.

Martin Koehring, managing editor at The Economist Intelligence Unit, added: “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. 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.”

The index has proven to be a useful tool in identifying the areas we need to work on in order to ensure the most sustainable relationship possible with food in terms of production, consumption and even the battle against food waste”, stated Guido Barilla, BCFN President. “Compared to last year, we’ve worked to make this tool even more precise and wide-reaching. This will make it possible to take a closer look at food not just in terms of “taste”, but as a whole, allowing experts and policy makers to get a better idea of how to direct research and political decisions. We Italians are convinced our food is the best in terms of taste, but we still face various challenges in terms of keeping up with the countries ahead of us in the ranking”, Barilla concluded.

View Food Sustainability Index 2017 results and download global executive summary, Mediterranean report and related infographics

About the research

The 2017 Food Sustainability Index (FSI) ranks 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 with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN) as part of a research programme commissioned by BCFN. The FSI aims to investigate the key issues impacting food sustainability across three pillars: food loss and waste; sustainable agriculture; and nutritional challenges. The FSI’s ranking is not intended to be judgemental. It offers instead a tool to understand and monitor performance and progress of countries vis-à-vis the main challenges confronting the global food system.

An accompanying report produced in 2017, Fixing Food: The Mediterranean Region, investigates food sustainability issues in the Mediterranean in the context of the various social, economic and environmental challenges confronting the region. New content in the 2017 edition of the research programme also includes an executive summary and infographics on the global findings as well as articles on food sustainability developments in the Arab world, France, Germany and the US.

More details on the findings, scope and methodology can be found here: http://foodsustainability.eiu.com/. 

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

We deliver vital business intelligence to executives the world over. With access to over 650 expert analysts and editors across 200 countries worldwide, underpinned by an unrivalled in-house survey panel that bolsters the qualitative and quantitative analysis, we uncover novel and forward-looking perspectives. We apply the same rigor of our editorial heritage to design content that goes beyond the expected. And our reputation for authority and independence ensures access to elite contributors in every market in the world, providing truly distinctive viewpoints. More information can be found at https://www.eiuperspectives.economist.com or https://twitter.com/EIUperspectives.

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

For further information BCFN Press Office c/o INC – Istituto Nazionale per la Comunicazione

Simone Silvi s.silvi@inc-comunicazione.it 335 1097279 – 06. 44160881

Mariagrazia Martorana m.martorana@inc-comunicazione.it 333 5761268 – 06. 44160864


Valentina Gasbarri, Media Relations, valentina.gasbarri@barillacfn.com  , +39 338 7882700

The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN Foundation) is a multi-disciplinary research centre which analyses the causes of economic, scientific, social and environmental factors and the effects they have on the food system. It produces scientific content which can be used to inform and help people to make responsible choices regarding food, nutrition, health and sustainability. The Advisory Board oversees the work of the BCFN Foundation. For more information: www.barillacfn.com; 

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