[3 December/Food Navigator]

The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) ranks countries on food system sustainability. It assesses the sustainability of food systems according to three categories – food loss and waste; sustainable agriculture and nutritional challenges through an environmental, societal and economic prism. For the third year running, France was praised for its regulatory environment that cuts down on food waste and loss, whilst South Korea, France and Italy were top for sustainable agriculture. Japan, South Korea and Hungary were ranked highly for combatting nutritional challenges. However, the authors noted that a high score does not mean all problems have been solved, but that a country is on the right path to addressing their challenges. The index has been developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in partnership with the Barilla Centre for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN).  Leo Abruzzese, senior global director of public policy at EIU said high performers also have gaps that need to be addressed such as high meat and sugar intakes, a lack of young people in the farming profession and high levels of food waste at the consumer end. The top-performing low-income country in 2018 was Rwanda, which scored highly thanks to some progress on nutritional indicators and low consumption of sugar and salt and a sustainable water policy. The FSI also highlights how a sustainable food industry can contribute to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The EIU and BCFN also added new indicators to “round out” the 2018 index. These include groundwater stress, an increasingly important area as underground reserves of water are being depleted for farming, and financial inclusion, or how easy it is for smallholder farmers to access finance.