The BCFN Reveals the Results of the Food Sustainability Index (FSI)

France, Japan and Canada: the countries where people eat best around the world.
The USA comes 11th.
India and Saudi Arabia face the greatest food challenges.

MILAN--()--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.

“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”

In the global ranking of the most virtuous countries, the USA is in 11th place. It owes its position to the efforts made on a national and local level to tackle American’s unhealthy eating habits and its good performance in terms of nutritional sustainability. Nevertheless, the country has extremely high levels of food waste, both throughout the production chain and during domestic consumption.

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.

USA in 11th place, but needs to focus on obesity and food waste

The USA is faced with two urgent problems which it needs to address: reducing food waste and lowering the number of Americans who are obese or overweight. This situation means that the USA is third in the obesity ranking, only behind countries in the Middle East. More specifically, in the United Arab Emirates, 74% of the population is obese or overweight (BMI above 25), followed by Saudi Arabia (69.6%), just ahead of the USA (67.3%). The Food Sustainability Index also places the USA second-to-last in the ranking for excessive eating and lack of physical activity, and the country sinks to last place in the healthy food table.

As for food waste, San Francisco was identified as America’s best performing city because, in recent years, it has stood out for having launched an excellent system for sorting waste and recycling, food education and the distribution of food banks. However, despite this city’s success, it should also be highlighted that the USA throws away around 46 million tonnes of food every year, with an average of around 40% being domestic waste, placing the country amongst the stragglers when it comes to food waste.

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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