Our studies, to understand the present and build the future.
FOOD SUSTAINABILITY INDEX
The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) is a joint project developed by Barilla Foundation and Economist Impact, analyzing the journey towards sustainable food systems in 78 countries. The FSI is based on 38 indicators and 95 environmental, economic and social subindicators, divided into three pillars: food losses and waste, sustainable agriculture and nutritional challenges.
The purpose of the FSI is to analyze countries’ performance and set a comparable qualitative and quantitative standard. The FSI is directed at stakeholders in the food system and aims to inform the work of researchers, policymakers and industry, to educate students, and to provide tools that help citizens conscientiously choose options that are good for our health and our planet.
The nutritional challenges look at the complexity of the effects food has on people and health, in three areas: quality of life, life expectancy and food systems.
Undernourishment, malnutrition and overnutrition affect countries around the world to varying degrees, with children as the main victims. Many countries face a double burden: hunger on the one hand and obesity on the other. Both affect life expectancy, including in terms of health outcomes and disabilities due to chronic conditions. Research shows the countries heading the rankings to be Japan, Sweden and Denmark, while Mali, Nigeria and Mozambique face the biggest challenges.
The FSI considers how to make agriculture more sustainable from the perspective of the impact on the land, water, and atmosphere. The indicators used show how protection of environmental resources goes hand in hand with improvements in the social and economic conditions of farmers and local communities. The FSI also attaches major importance to safeguarding animal welfare and to measures to adapt agricultural systems to climate change.
The FSI shows that reform to the institutions and infrastructure of developing countries can help boost their efficiency: more transparent land rights, increased economic support for the agricultural sector, and better infrastructure for warehousing, transport and logistics promote improved efficiency. The analysis shows that Finland, Estonia and Austria are the countries with the highest score for sustainable agriculture, with Algeria, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates at the foot of the rankings.
FOOD LOSSES & WASTE
The third pillar of the FSI concerns the fight against food losses and waste. Taking as a starting point the assumption that food waste is a global issue, not only in the richest countries, the FSI and its quantitative and qualitative indicators show how European countries such as France and Italy have adopted a holistic policy framework for the elimination of food waste.
The private sector also plays a key role in these processes. The FSI shows how the food retail industry is addressing the challenge of food waste by means of different measures: clearer expiration dates on products, donating excess food to charity, and the use of food waste as fuel.
In terms of food losses, the results show the causes in developing countries to include poor infrastructure, inadequate access to cold chain technologies, inadequate storage facilities and vulnerability to pest and drought shocks. The three countries at the top of the food losses and waste rankings are Canada, Italy, and Germany. The countries with the lowest scores are Congo, Nigeria, and Algeria.