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Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit news release

Food security globally has remained largely stable over the past year despite challenges including food price volatility, new areas of political unrest, the ongoing European economic crisis, and a severe summer drought in the Midwestern U.S. and Eastern Europe, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Food Security Index (GFSI), released today in Santiago, Chile.

While the global average food security score remained virtually unchanged in the latest index (53.5) compared with a year ago (53.6), some notable trends emerged.

Developing countries made the greatest food security gains in the past year. Ethiopia, Botswana and the Dominican Republic led the way, rising eight places on average in the global food security rankings, based largely on greater food availability and income growth.

High-income countries still dominate the top 25% of the index, but falling national incomes hurt food security in many cases, especially in countries on the periphery of Europe. The US retained the top ranking in the 2013 GFSI, with some shifts in the top ten group resulting in Norway taking the second spot, and France the third.

"Prices for some key food crops, especially grains, spiked last year, raising food costs globally," said Leo Abruzzese, Global Forecasting Director for the Economist Intelligence Unit. "Fortunately, those prices have retreated in the last six months, although they remain higher than they were just a few years ago. The EIU expects the prices of wheat and other grains to fall further during 2013, which is good news for global food security."

The GFSI, developed by the EIU and sponsored by DuPont is intended to deepen the dialogue on food security by examining the core isses of food affordability, availability, and quality across a set of 107 developed and developing countries worldwide. The dynamic benchmarking model evaluates 27 qualitative and quantitative indicators which collectively, create the conditions for food security in a country.

The 2013 Global Food Security Index builds on the insights from last year's assessment and includes two new indicators; corruption and urban absorption capacity, and two new countries; Ireland and Singapore.

Key findings from this year's index include:

Overall average food security remained consistent with last year. No region's score improved dramatically, but Sub-Saharan Africa showed the biggest gain, climbing by around one point in the index. Last year's drought in some key growing regions will have reduced food security for a period of time, as grain prices rose, although that trend eased later in the year.

Political conflict reduced food security in troubled countries. Mali, Yemen and Syria recorded some of the biggest declines in the index this year, dropping 14, seven and seven places, respectively. Violent conflict not only reduced political stability but also hurt GDP growth, road infrastructure, access to potable water and the ability of formal grocery sectors to provide food. On the other hand, countries that experienced significant improvements in political stability and democratic rights in the past year, such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka, improved their food security ranking, with Myanmar rising five places and Sri Lanka climbing by four.

Falling national incomes weakened food security in some developed countries. Greece fell the furthest among developed nations, dropping six places as a result of national GDP plummeting by more than 20% since the global recession. Income per person dropped in most advanced economies in the past year, as a result of weak economies. Although this affected food security in these countries, they remain, for the most part, in the top 20% of the index and thus are not in serious danger of food insecurity.

Urbanisation helped to improve food security in emerging markets. Sierra Leone ranked at the top of this year's new urbanisatin indicator, which measures the capacity of governments to support the food-needs of growing cities. Real GDP in the country grew nearly four times faster than urbanisation in the last three years, suggesting the government may have the resources to support newly urban populations, through developments such as urban farming.

Dietary protein consumption increased in 62% of countries in the index. Average daily protein consumption per capita is 1.7 grams greater in this year's index than it was the year prior.

The quantity of protein in the average daily diet improved the most in Myanmar, where the average person is consuming 31% more grams of protein per day than previously.

To view the Global Food Security Index 2013 website with an interactive visualisation of the index results, the underlying excel model and findings and methodology report for this study, visit:

The Global Food Security Index 2013 report is available free of charge on the EIU website at:

About The Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist.

Through our global network of more than 350 analysts and contributors, we continuously assess and forecast political, economic and business conditions in 200 countries. As the world's leading provider of country intelligence, we help executives and governments make better decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies.

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