The BCFN Reveals The Results Of The Food Sustainability Index (FSI)
1 Dec 2016
The BCFN Reveals The Results Of The Food Sustainability Index
France, Japan and Canada: the countries where people eat best around the world.
Italy comes sixth.
India and Saudi Arabia face the greatest food challenges.
• Taste is not the only thing that makes food “good ”
• The Barilla Foundation, in collaboration with The Economist Intelligence Unit, publishes a new Index measuring the sustainability of the food system focused around three pillars: nutrition, agriculture and food waste.
• France leads the index, followed by Japan and Canada.
• Italy is in sixth position: it has the lowest greenhouse emissions from agriculture in Europe. Its principle challenges relate to over-nutrition; childhood obesity, in particular, is a growing problem.
• India, Nigeria and Ethiopia face significant nutritional challenges, while the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the USA have the highest levels of obesity and food waste per person.
• City Monitor: an Index for the world’s biggest cities is coming soon.
Milan, 1 December 2016 – France, followed by Japan and Canada are the top three countries in a new index measuring food and nutrition sustainability across 25 countries, representing two thirds of the world’s population and 87% of global GDP. These three nations achieved the best scores for the production, distribution and consumption of food. Their agriculture is the most sustainable, food waste is lowest (including thanks to innovative policies to combat food) and where diets are the most balanced, without excesses or deficiencies, mindful of people’s health and the planet’s wellbeing. France takes first place above in part due to its innovative policies to fight food waste and the balanced diets of its population. Japan and Canada come second and third by virtue of their policies regarding sustainable agriculture and the widespread adoption of healthy balanced diets.
Countries that score lowest are India, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and India and Egypt face a double challenge of obesity and malnutrition. Their use of resources (especially water) is also considered unsustainable, and they are losing food at the pre-consumer level. India is in last place in part because of its unsustainable management of water resources and the inadequacies in Indian people’s diets: it has the highest percentage of malnutrition among children aged under 5 years. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are 24th and 23rd in the ranking respectively, largely due to their excessive food waste and high levels of obesity.
The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) was, commissioned by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation and carried out by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) – the research arm of The Economist Group. It is the only index of its kind and revolutionises the way we look at food. For the first time, it provides an analysis of the world’s food choices not simply based on “taste”, but also on the overall sustainability of the food system . This in-depth analysis culminated in a ranking of countries around the world which the food system is most sustainable based on 58 criteria across three pillars: sustainable agriculture, nutritional challenges and food waste. The objectives of the FSI are to highlight the performance of various countries, establish comparable measurement criteria, provide examples of best practice and measure progress over time.
“The slogan chosen for this BCFN Forum is ‘Eat Better. Eat Less. Food for All’ because it epitomises our view extremely concisely: if we eat better, not only will our health benefit as a result, but so will the wellbeing of the planet,” explains Guido Barilla, BCFN President. “The Food Sustainability Index will help us to understand where people eat the best around the world, not in terms of how good something tastes, but in terms of the sustainability of the food system, helping researchers and decision makers to understand where to focus research and policy choices.” "In my view, Italian food is the best in the world in terms of taste, but in terms of the food system, even though we are quite high up, we still need to do better,” concludes Barilla.
Italy ranks sixth: the best EU country for greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector, but childhood obesity is a problem
Our country ranks a respectable sixth place, and is among the top 10 countries for sustainable agriculture – with positive scores for diversification in agriculture and management of water resources – and it is the best European country when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture sector. Moreover, Italy is one of the leading countries in the fight against food waste, as shown by the law passed in August (along with France, Italy is one of the few countries to have passed a law to tackle this problem).
Nutritional outcomes are less positive. We eat too much: our country comes third last in the ranking for overnourishment and second last for the proportion of overweight and obese children aged between 2 and 18 years. We score positively, however, on how well-informed Italian citizens are on the importance of having a balanced and healthy diet, such as our Mediterranean diet. And yet, just as the rest of the world acknowledges this diet as the best in the world, data shows that Italians themselves are abandoning it, especially among the younger generations.
Germany, Canada and Japan: the best countries for the development and promotion of sustainable agriculture
It is estimated that the global population will grow to 8.1 billion people by 2025, and that 95% of this growth will take place in developing countries. Meanwhile, our planet’s cultivable land is becoming increasingly scarce. Satisfying the global need for food means reducing waste, developing more sustainable production methods and techniques, improving the efficiency of the food system and making considered and careful choices about the use of land.
The three countries with the most sustainable agriculture sector in the Food Sustainability Index are Germany, Canada and Japan. Germany takes first place for sustainable agriculture, with excellent results in the management of water resources and the relatively low use of pesticides and fertilisers. Canada comes in second thanks to the high scores it achieved in the quality of its subsidies, the diversification of agricultural production and high productivity levels.
At the other end of the scale are India, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The United Arab Emirates suffer from scarce water resources, low levels of environmental biodiversity and a significant environmental impact of agriculture on the soil. The biggest challenges for India include improving the management of water and finding a solution to the negative impact of agriculture on water resources.
Nutritional challenges: France, Japan and South Korea lead the index, while India, Nigeria and South Africa score lowest.
Today, 795 million people around the world are undernourished, while 2.1 billion people are obese or overweight, and these figures continue to grow. The world is now faced with two key nutritional challenges: solving the problem of hunger and malnutrition around the world and at the same time tackling the increase in the numbers of overweight and obese people. Both of these factors have long-term consequences such as higher costs for health services, but also mortality, life chances and economic productivity.
France, Japan and South Korea are at the top of the FSI for nutrition quality. France owes its high ranking to the quality of policy response to dietary patterns, such as tax on sugar in drinks. On the other hand, the countries which face the biggest nutritional challenges are India, Nigeria and South Africa. India is in last place mainly because of the inadequate diet of large sections of its population, with extremely high levels of malnutrition, while South Africa has seen a significant increase in the consumption of junk food along with continued challenges of under-nourishment among the poor. But while poorer countries try to combat hunger and malnutrition, rich countries are seeing an increase in the number of overweight and obese people. Indeed, on a global level, the number of overweight people has tripled since 1965. More specifically, there has been an increase from 3.2% to 10.8% among men and from 6.4% to 14.9% among women. This situation could also be duplicated in developing countries which are going through what is defined as “premature obesity”: here the percentage of overweight children and teenagers has risen from 8.1% to 12.9% among boys and 8.4% to 13.4% among girls. Indeed, obesity rates are constantly increasing in developing countries, especially in the smaller nations, even though hunger continues to be a very real problem. There is where the two issues – obesity and malnutrition – collide, with a significant increase in illnesses connected to obesity such as Type 2 diabetes, strokes and cancer.
The United Arab Emirates is currently ranked last for overweight and obesity, followed by Saudi Arabia and the USA. In the United Arab Emirates, 74% of the population is obese or overweight (BMI above 25), followed by Saudi Arabia (69.6%) and the USA (67.3%).
The FSI also highlights the frequent micronutrient deficiencies in medium and high income countries. Turkey, Mexico, Argentina, Russia and Brazil are in the last eight places for micronutrient deficiencies, even ranking behind lower income countries (such as South Africa, China, Indonesia and Colombia). Even Italy, Australia and Germany rank below poorer countries when it comes to iodine deficiencies. The problem of micronutrient deficiencies is currently underestimated, despite being responsible for a series of conditions such as anaemia, stunted growth and night blindness.
France, Australia and South Africa are adopting the most innovative solutions to tackle food waste (but Italy is also one of the best)
France’s top ranking on food waste was achieved thanks to its holistic approach based on food education and new commercial practices. Italy is also in the top ten for providing incentives to companies and producers which donate food to those who need it most. This is a simple but innovative idea which could be copied in other countries looking to tackle the problem of food waste.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, a third of all food produced is wasted (1.3 billion tonnes of food either goes bad in storage, is lost or becomes inedible during distribution, or is thrown away by retail food stores, restaurants and kitchens). This represent around four times the quantity of food needed to feed the 800 million people around the world who do not have enough to eat.
Developed countries produce huge quantities of waste, mainly due to the fact that food is relatively cheap. Every year, the USA throws away around 46 million tonnes of food, with an average of around 40% represented by household waste. Europe ranks slightly better: according to data from the FAO, the food wasted in our continent could feed around 200 million people. However, food waste is also a problem in developing countries: in low and medium income countries, food represents a higher percentage of household expenditure, but in this case, food waste is lower.
The countries where the most food is wasted are Saudi Arabia (427kg per person per year), Indonesia (300kg), USA (277kg) and the United Arab Emirates (169kg).
An index for the world’s biggest cities is on its way
The Economist Intelligence Unit, in collaboration with the BCFN Foundation, has also launched a new pilot project looking at the urban food system, called City Monitor. This new index is intended to identify a series of indicators in order to understand the dynamics of the urban food system by evaluating data and consumption habits. In the initial stage, the 16 cities chosen were selected on the basis of their geographical location, the availability of data and their efforts to implement a sustainable food policy. The cities are: London, Milan, Paris, Toronto, Belo Horizonte, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Kyoto, Mexico City, Berlin, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Dubai, San Francisco, Lagos and Mumbai.
A prize for highlighting food paradoxes: the Food Sustainability Media Award is here
During the 7th International Forum, in order to keep the paradoxes in our food system in the global spotlight, the BCFN Foundation presented the Food Sustainability Media Award – an international journalism competition, created in collaboration with the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The objective is to raise awareness among the media of the key global issues regarding food, including food waste, climate change and the rights of farmers. The competition has three different journalism categories – written reports, video accounts and photography – and the winners will be those who are best able to highlight the food paradoxes as well as offering solutions on how to combat them.
PRESS OFFICE CONTACTS
BCFN PRESS OFFICE c/o INC ISTITUTO NAZIONALE PER LA COMUNICAZIONE
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: For more information: www.barillacfn.com; www.protocollodimilano.it