France has come out on top of the Food Sustainability Index (FSI) 2018 among high-income countries.
Other European countries that ranked highly include the Netherlands (2), Finland (4), the Czech Republic and Denmark (6), Sweden (8), Austria (9) and Hungary (10).
Greece (43), Lithuania (41) and Cyprus (37) all ranked much further down the list, while the UK came in at number 24.
Bulgaria almost hit the bottom of the ranking at number 66, while Russia (65), Turkey (58), Slovenia (56), Slovakia (55), Malta (54) and Latvia (53) all rated poorly in terms of food sustainability.
Major economies such as China (23) and the USA (26) also fell outside of the top 20.
France scored particularly highly in the category of “food loss and waste”.
The country has taken initiatives to reduce such waste, like its legislation requiring supermarkets to redistribute leftover food to charities serving poor communities.
It also fared very well across the FSI's two other pillars: nutritional challenges and sustainable agriculture.
The index ranks 67 countries, which make up 90% of the world’s global GDP and over four-fifths of the global population, based on their food system sustainability.
It was developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit with the think tank Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN).
In the index’s “low-income countries” group, Rwanda scored highest, displaying a good performance across the three categories.
A country where citizens’ diets are relatively low in sugar, meat, saturated fat and sodium supports the country’s high ranking in the nutritional challenges pillar.
Rwanda also performed well in terms of sustainable agricultural practices, such as the sustainability of public water sources.
Colombia is the leading middle-income country in the FSI, thanks also to sustainable agriculture, including water management and conservation.
“Sustainable food systems are vital for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030,” Martin Koehring, managing editor at The Economist Intelligence Unit, said.
A white paper released with the index makes recommendations on best practices concerning food sustainability with the goal of reaching the SDGs.
These include eating guidelines, agroecology farming practices, and technology that connects agricultural producers and buyers.