Britain comes top of the Food League; but it's not all good news

The good news is that Britain has been crowned the top of a particular league.

The bad news is... the league is for the amount of food wasted by countries in Europe.

According to a new international food ranking system we throw away around 130kg of food each year per person, slightly less than twice the weight of the average British adult (which is approx. 76kg according to 2010 stats).

Some slightly better news is that we don't fare quite as bad (although still badly) when the statistics are applied globally. Out of a total of 25 countries, we were the 6th worst offender.


You might think that the United States would top the chart of the biggest waster of food, but despite the Americans throwing away more than double the amount of food we do - 278kg of it, it was Saudia Arabia that came out on top. They throw away 427kg of grub per person, which is more than 3 times what we chuck in the bin.

As far as the European stats are concerned, Germans waste 104kg per head per year, whilst the French and Italians tie at 110kg of food waste.

Global results

An astonishing 1.3 billion tonnes of food that could otherwise be eaten is thrown away per annum around the globe, four times the amount needed to feed the 795 million people suffering from malnutrition.

All these statistics come from recent results published by the Food Sustainability Index (FSI). The FSI doesn't only study food wastage, it also ranks countries according to standards of nutrition and agriculture as well.

All countries were ranked on 58 criteria across three areas; food waste, nutritional challenges and sustainable agriculture.

On a slightly more positive note, France topped the overall index as the most conscientious nation, with Japan in second place. Canada was 3rd, Germany 4th and the UK was a respectable 5th place in the league.

The FSI was commissioned by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation, and the study was carried out by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) - the research arm of The Economist Group.

Adam Green, of The Economist Intelligence Unit, said: “All of us are guilty of not connecting what is in front of us with the rest of the world. We’re so ignorant of the chain of food that we live with just because we’re busy. We want to encourage people to understand that what’s on your plate is part of a system and you need to think about the sustainability of the whole system.”

Positive UK findings

The overall position of the UK turned out to be quite respectable overall. We were ranked 7th in terms of nutrition and 8th for sustainable agriculture. We were also ranked 8th for food loss and food waste combined, which was largely attributed to having strong transport infrastructure and storage systems in place.

An interesting thing to note is that France now has laws in place which prohibit supermarkets disposing of edible food, which could explain why France did so well.

In general, the UK was praised by BCFN for “striving to build a food model which protects people’s health and the wellbeing of the planet”.

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