The Global Food Security Index 2021 highlights the critical lessons that have been learned over the past ten years

October 12, 2021



The Global Food Security Index 2021 anniversary issue highlights the critical lessons that have been learned over the past ten years about global, national and regional-level food security


Released today, Economist Impact’s Global Food Security Index (GFSI), sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, is a benchmarking tool that examines the underlying drivers and causes of food security across both developed and developing countries. The GFSI evaluates how effectively a country is able to meet its population’s calorific and nutritional needs, while also examining the impact of external factors such as agricultural infrastructure, political stability and climate risks, among others.

This ten-year anniversary issue of the GFSI allows us to look back over the past decade of data to inform action towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal of reaching zero hunger by 2030. This past decade has shown how important it is to look at hunger from a food-systems approach. This involves weighing up the affordability, availability, quality and safety of food, as well as assessing how resilient nations are in protecting their natural resources to enable them to keep producing food now and in the future.  
“The Index is a powerful indicator of the trends in food security and Corteva Agriscience is proud to have been a sponsor of the Index since its inception,” said Tim Glenn, Executive Vice president and Chief Commercial Officer of Corteva Agriscience. “Corteva believes farmers have a critical role in helping achieve a more food-secure world. To reverse the trends in food insecurity, we believe that all stakeholders must collaborate to bring meaningful, science-based solutions to farmers worldwide.”

There are three main actions that can be taken to drive progress and improve food security in this decade, which the UN has deemed the “Decade of Action”. “We must ensure that well-targeted and efficient food safety-net programmes are in place, and focus on lowering inequality in income and across genders” said Pratima Singh, project lead for the Global Food Security Index at Economist Impact. “We must invest in future-proofing our food supply by investing in agricultural R&D and technology. And we must prioritise agricultural adaptation, including through national and regional policies, and disaster risk management plans, to develop sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices.”

Key findings from the Global Food Security Index 2021 include:

  • After making rapid gains in the first few years of its inception, the GFSI scores across all nations peaked in 2019, before dropping over the past two years amid the covid-19 pandemic, conflict and climate variability. 
  • This drop in GFSI scores has been seen across all regions and nations in all the different income tiers. However, high-income nations in Europe still lead the index, as they did a decade ago, taking up seven of the top ten places, with Ireland getting top spot, scoring 84 (all GFSI scores are marked out of 100).   
  • Similarly, Sub-Saharan African nations continue to dominate the bottom ten spots on the index, taking up seven of these places, with bottom-scorer Burundi’s score of 34.67 only 43% that of Ireland.
  • The GFSI shows that hunger (using undernourishment as a measure) and stunting in children are most tied to the quality and safety of food. Populations with diets that lack quality protein and micronutrients, and where access to drinking water is limited, score worse in food security.  
  • The countries that are models for food security are those that score highly on all four pillars of food security. For example, top-scorer Ireland scores above 92 points for Affordability, and Quality and Safety of food, and above 74 points for the Availability and resilience pillars.
  • Over ten years, Ireland has been able to keep food costs down at the same time as tackling inequality and ensuring that a safety net remains in place. It has seen a big jump in agricultural R&D and has been able to minimise food loss, helping to ensure that enough quality food is available. The government also has high nutritional standards and is politically committed to adaptation.
  • These trends have been replayed to some extent across the top ten most improved nations over a decade, which include countries like Tanzania, Oman and China, who have moved up because they have been able to tackle affordability, instil safety nets and boost market access. They have also cut back on volatility in production and committed to food security strategies and adaptation policies.
  • Conversely, those nations that have deteriorated the most, like Venezuela and Burundi, have done so because they have been unable to keep food costs down, have not had sufficient food supply or market access, and have suffered from volatile production. The bottom ten nations have often not had the capacity to grow food security through investing in R&D, safety nets, food security strategies, national adaptation policies, risk management plans and nutritional guidelines. These policies, investments and regulations are essential to the construction of food-secure economies.

The Global Food Security Index 2021 was launched on Tuesday, October 12th. The launch was followed by a live broadcast event at 2pm BST on the same day.

To access the global report, GFSI model and other detailed findings from the index, visit

Press enquiries:

For any press enquiries please contact Pratima Singh of Economist Impact at [email protected].

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