France tops food sustainability table

France has topped a global index ranking 34 countries’ success in managing food waste, sustainable agriculture and nutritional challenges, with the UK in tenth place.


Other top performers in the index include Japan, Germany, Spain and Sweden, while the UAE is ranked worst for food sustainability, followed by India, Indonesia, Lebanon and Tunisia.

France’s success is largely thanks to government policies that have seen the country’s food production wastage fall to 1.8% annually, including supermarket bans on throwing away food approaching sell-by-dates.

The index, which was developed by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition Foundation, includes countries representing 85% of global GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population.

“Sustainable food systems are vital in achieving the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, notably ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030,” EIU managing editor, Martin Koehring, said.

“However, major developments such as climate change, rapid urbanisation, tourism, migration flows and the shift towards westernised diets put food systems under pressure.

Italy is ranked the top performer for sustainable agriculture thanks to the country pioneering new techniques to reduce water loss, as well as scoring highly for sustainability of fisheries.

Japan scores best for nutritional challenges, reflecting its high life expectancy, a complete absence of Vitamin A Deficiency, and the fourth-lowest obesity rate among 5-19 year-olds.

The US performs particularly badly in nutrition indicator with a ranking of 24th place, dragged down by elevated levels of meat consumption and saturated fat.

In addition, the sugar content of diets in the US is the highest of all the countries studied, while it is also rated as one of the worst for sustainable agriculture, receiving an overall ranking of 21st place.

“The index is an important tool to help policymakers and other relevant stakeholders design effective policies to improve food system sustainability,” Koehring concluded.


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