4 Jul 2018

FROM THE WORLD'S FOOTBALL MATCH TO THE FOOD SUSTAINABILITY WORLD CUP. BARILLA FOUNDATION: WHO WILL BE AT “THE TOP OF THE WORLD"

On the football pitch, France, Brazil, Sweden and England are all in the running, but who's winning on the table for the sustainability of the food?

Thanks to the Food Sustainability Index, BCFN analyzes best practices and policies of 34 countries best performing in terms of food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture and nutritional challenges.

Italy, the big team missing from the football world cup, leads the way in sustainable agriculture but ranks low on nutritional challenges.




Who will win the FIFA World Cup? Will it be one of the favorites, France and Brazil, or will it be the turn of an outsider like Belgium, Sweden or England? For a few weeks now, the media have been full of nothing else. But if the World Cup were about not the football pitch but what we eat, are we sure the same countries would be at the top of the rankings? Which country would come out best in terms of food produced in the most sustainable way? And would Italy really be knocked out in qualifying? The Fondazione Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) started to wonder, and set out to focus attention on the good practices and successful policies of the most sustainable countries, meaning the ones which, thanks to their actions with regard to sustainable AGRICULTURE, food wastage and nutritional challenges, are already helping to change the world today. To find out who would win the Sustainability World Cup, the researchers turned to the Food Sustainability Index, developed by the BCFN in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit, which analyzes the sustainability of the food system in 34 countries (representing 87% of global GDP and 2/3 of the world's population)1.

FRANCE ALSO LEADS THE WORLD IN SUSTAINABILITY ITALY EARNS ITS PLACE IN THE WORLD CUP FINALS

France is still an undisputed leader, not only on the football pitch but also in food sustainability. Its high score comes from its excellent performance on the FSI's three fundamental pillars: food wastage, sustainable AGRICULTURE and nutritional challenges. France wins the title due to its adoption of concrete polices for reducing food waste in both industry and the home, in a world where about one third of all global food production is thrown away2. However, the winners in the world sustainability cup include countries just knocked out of the World Football Cup. They include Japan, just defeated by Belgium by 2 goals to 3 in a match of shifting fortunes, Germany and Spain, two of the favorites who have said goodbye to Russia before the rest. But looking at the FSI analysis we also find Sweden, still in the competition, as well as Portugal, Italy, South Korea and Hungary. These countries have shown that they have a strong, effective government policy in areas such as food waste, AGRICULTURE practices that prioritize environmental protection, innovation in AGRICULTURE and nutritional education.

ITALY IS "CHAMPIONING" IN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND PERFORMS WELL ON COMBATING FOOD LOSS AND WASTE. 19th IN NUTRITIONAL CHALLENGES

Italy, which failed to make the grade on the football pitch, performs very well in food sustainability. The FSI ranks it seventh amongst the countries studied. It does well in terms of food production sustainability, in which it out-performs Colombia and Germany. A success justified by excellent performances in Water Scarcity and Water Management, proving that what matters is not only the amount of water available, but also the ability to manage the way it is used. When it comes to the fight against food losses and wastage, Italy has leaped forward since 2016, finishing in 4th place, behind only France (which has put a great deal of effort into this area in the last few years), Germany and Spain. Italy is rewarded for its hard work in the areas of Policy Response to Food Loss and Food Loss. However, much remains to be done in terms of Solution to Distribution-Level Loss, which penalized the country in its assessment. The figures on nutritional challenges were less encouraging. Italy is in 19th place, paying the price above all of room for improvement in the percentage of overweight children in the 5 to 19 year age-range (as well as adults), which has grown significantly in recent years. A figure which gives serious food for thought when combined with the small number of people who actually achieve the recommended weekly amount of exercise. In short, the abandonment of the "Mediterranean Diet", which many people see as a factor gaining ground amongst Italy's younger generations, continues to be a point on which decision-makers need to focus.

AMONGST THE TEAMS PLAYING AT THE FOOTBALL WORLD CUP, WHICH ARE THE STRONGEST IN FOOD SUSTAINABILITY?

There are still 8 countries in competition on the pitch for the coveted Football World Cup. But which of France, Brazil, Uruguay, Belgium, Russia, Croatia, Sweden and England has performed best and why according to the FSI? If we look at the countries studied by the Food Sustainability Index which qualified for the quarter finals, we find that France seems to have a head start over all the rest. This is above all thanks to its work in fighting food wastage and nutritional challenges. Every year, 106 Kg of food per person is wasted in France (compared to 361 kg in Australia or 250 Kg in Saudi Arabia), while only 1.8% of all the food produced is lost in the entire food supply chain. But France also does well with regard to attention to nutritional challenges, with a healthy life expectancy of over 72 years – in a world where, on average, people enjoy good health until age 67 - and quality of life. Sweden seems to be in with a chance as an outsider. In fact, it performs well in terms of food waste and sustainable AGRICULTURE. However, it needs to improve with regard to nutritional challenges, especially since its population is moving away from sustainable diets towards foods richer in fats and sugars: the Swedish diet includes an intake of about 9.9 grams of salt per person per day (compared to the 5g recommended by the WHO), while 13% of daily food intake consists of sugars. England is somewhere in the middle, since it is  very strong in water resource management, but needs to optimize its land use, since it currently scores badly on farm subsidies and crop diversification. Colombia – just knocked out on penalties - is just behind England, because in the South American country – in spite of its football team's athleticism – people take very little exercise (only 20 hours a week), although its AGRICULTURE sector- which seems to be particularly sustainable – wins it almost the maximum score in four out of six indicators in the "water" category (impact of AGRICULTURE on water, water management, reuse in AGRICULTURE and water scarcity). 

And Brazil?  Although very strong on the football pitch, the country still has a long way to go in terms of the sustainability of its food production system. It needs to do more to make its AGRICULTURE sustainable, by focusing on issues such as water management and land use. But major improvements are also required in terms of food wastage, since the results are far from encouraging: in Brazil 6.6% of all food produced is still thrown away

The countries studied by the Index do not include some of the national teams involved in the Football World Cup finals, such as Russia and Belgium, which are therefore ruled out of the BCFN world cup

2  FAO Estimates


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