“The Index provides a common set of metrics that enable us to track progress in food security globally, and the outcomes thus far are promising,” said Craig F. Binetti, president of DuPont Nutrition & Health. “But we know it will take continued collaboration, innovation and investment in agriculture, food and nutrition to overcome the vast challenges to feeding the world’s growing population.”
Food security represents a growing global challenge, as the world’s population increases by more than 75 million people each year, reaching more than 9 billion by 2050. Food prices will pose major obstacles to accessibility to food, as billions in the developing world already spend half to three-quarters of their income on food. Increasing shortages of water and arable land, especially in developing nations, will present additional challenges to food security.
This year, the Index demonstrated that every region improved from the prior year, but the most progress was seen among Sub-Saharan Africa countries, driven primarily by improvements in political stability and economic growth, despite the food-insecure environment. Scores in Central and South America and Asia Pacific were hurt by reduced diet diversification and decreased public expenditure on agricultural research and development. Even with the overall progress, the Index indicates that several developing nations continue to deal with inadequate infrastructure, political risk and food price inflation, while developed nations struggle with adapting to urbanization and the growing prevalence of obesity.
Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were added to the Index this year. Both countries earned excellent to moderate scores in all indicators except for public expenditure on agricultural R&D and, for the UAE, volatility of agricultural production, which were weaknesses.
The addition of obesity as a background variable in the Index reflects its impact across developed and developing countries. In developing countries such as Syria, Mexico and Jordan, nearly one-third of the population is obese, comparable to rates in the U.S.
“While obesity was once studied independently of food security, today many scholars and policymakers are considering the relationships between the two,” said Leo Abruzzese, director, The Economist Intelligence Unit Global Forecasting. “This will provide insights for individuals, policymakers, private sector leaders and others who are trying to understand how progress can be made on both fronts.”
The other new indicator, food loss, examines post-harvest and pre-consumer food loss that occurs in various stages of production, processing, transport and storage along the supply chain, such as when edible food products are left in the field or in silos, degraded through improper packaging or consumed by pests.
The Index revealed that while high-income countries generally have the best scores in this category, a number of former Soviet republic countries, including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, scored as well as many developed, high-income nations. Sub-Saharan countries had the worst scores for this indicator— among the 10 lowest-performing countries, supply-chain food losses ranged from a high of 9.5% in Malawi to a crushing 18.9% in Ghana.
For more information on the interactive Global Food Security Index, including definitions of the 28 global indicators, impact of changing food prices, multi-country comparisons and more, visit: http://foodsecurityindex.eiu.com/.