Global Food Security Index

Having discussed, both in the book and on this website, several measures of hunger such as the Global Hunger Index and the FAO’s State of Food Insecurity, it only seems fair to mention a recently developed index. The Global Food Security Index was designed and constructed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and is sponsored by DuPont, and unlike its counterparts it is updated quarterly ‘to adjust for the impact of fluctuating food prices’.

It takes its data from United Nations agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Food Programme, World Trade Organisation and World Health Organisation. Qualitative indicators developed by EIU analysts such as those measuring political instability and the presence of food safety net programmes sit alongside quantitative.

In total there are 25 indicators which measure affordability, availability and quality (the three tenets of the 1996 World Food Summit’s definition of food security) across 105 countries (see Table).

Affordability Availability Quality
Food consumption as a share of household expenditure Sufficiency of supply Diet diversification
Proportion of population under global poverty line Public expenditure on agricultural R&D Nutritional standards
Gross domestic product per capita Agricultural infrastructure Micronutrient availability
Agricultural import tariffs Volatility of agricultural production Protein quality
Access to financing for farmers Political instability Food safety
Presence of food safety net programs

While the index doesn’t generate an overall number of food insecure people in the world it does ‘look beyond hunger to the underlying factors affecting food insecurity’. Its usefulness lies in both the depth of knowledge amassed and its ranking of countries.

Countries are ranked according to how highly they score out of 100. The USA tops the rankings at 89.5 and the Democratic Republic of Congo is last with a score of 18.4. Other top line results include:

  • Several of the sub-Saharan African countries that finished in the bottom third of the index, including Mozambique, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nigeria, will be among the world’s faster growing economies during the next two years.
  • Several policy and nutrition related indicators, including access to financing for farmers, the presence of food safety net programmes, protein quality and diet diversification, are highly correlated with overall food security.
  • The food supply in advanced countries averages 1,200 calories more per person, per day, than in low-income economies.
  • The US, Denmark, Norway and France are the most food-secure countries in the world.

For more information about the Global Food Security Index click here.


  1. James Rohan says:

    Affordability is not access as we also need to consider the stable nature of supply. Quality also fails to recognise attributes of utilisation in that foods should be culturally sensitive. Protein quality may be acceptable but for the fact meat is not acceptable in some cultures. The Index seems to promote supply as a commodity while being in Duponts interests may in the short term mask these vagaries of food insecurity.

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