Seed World

The Economist Intelligence Unit Releases 2018 Global Food Security Index Findings

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Corteva Agriscience, released the 2018 Global Food Security Index (GFSI) findings. The report provides a common framework for understanding the root causes of food insecurity. For the first time, Singapore claims the top spot in the 2018 GFSI ranking. Singapore sits in the top spot due in part to GDP per capita has risen nearly 30 percent since 2012, and the percentage of household expenditure that is spent on food is 6.9 percent.

In addition to the increase in GDP, Singapore also has the lowest agricultural import tariffs among all countries in the index.

GFSI ranking criteria is set by examining the dynamics of food systems and the effects of changing global environments. The GFSI is the first to examine food security through the lens of affordability, availability and quality, across a set of 113 countries, of which many have a Corteva Agriscience presence.

According to the findings, lower-middle- and low-income countries experience the most substantial gains during the past year, signaling a shift toward more resilient food security measures. Improvements in agricultural infrastructure and increased capacity to feed growing populations are credited for improvements.

Environmental Effects

In 2017, GFSI unveiled a new environmental category, recognizing the need for resource conservations, climate change adaptation and sustainable agriculture practices. Using factors such as temperature change, land deforestation and water resource depletion, the Natural Resource & Resilience category is used to measure future environmental effects on the countries in the GFSI.

Applying the Resource & Resilience category to the 2018 GFSI, the average score of higher-income countries falls further than any other income group. However, these risks pose a threat for which all countries must prepare.

“The addition of the Resource & Resilience category provides global leaders another way to measure food security, as well as think about how our actions have long-reaching consequences in terms of climate change,” says Jerry Flint, Global Initiatives & Sustainability leader at Corteva Agriscience. “By keeping track of our exposure risk, agricultural leaders can better position themselves to weather the storm. Knowing how each of these risk factors works with each other, as well as independently, allows us to mitigate some risk and build a more resilient future.”

The GFSI concludes that global climate change is already adding uncertainty into the conditions of food production and distribution, creating new and unprecedented challenges. This uncharted territory makes anticipation difficult, resulting in the increased importance of resiliency in food systems.

Ratings Changes

Despite the 2018 GFSI improvements in food availability and affordability, the overall food quality and safety score declined, due in part to reduced diet diversification and lower protein quality. The existence of national dietary guidelines, nutritional strategies and formal grocery sectors have improved. However, findings show countries can continue to do more to ensure the safety and health of food, particularly given risks of contamination along the global food supply chain.

For the second year in a row, the United States GFSI rating dropped. Maintaining the top spot from 2012 and 2016, the United States is now tied for third with the United Kingdom. The dip in ranking reflects a slower rate of improvement (85.0 in 2018) compared to its peers, not a decline in its total score (84.6 in 2017). The country’s political stability score has declined since 2016, hindering the food security advances it made between 2016 and 2018. The threat of trade barriers could push up food costs, further affecting the score.