The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Food to Finland
Finnish cuisine reflects the nation’s rugged landscape and harsh climate. Four of the five countries with the most similar food to Finland have a lot of coastline and border either the Baltic or the North Sea. These counties also have relatively cool weather as well.
- Sweden ruled Finland for almost 700 years. In fact, Swedish is still one of Finland’s official languages. In addition, their climate and food are similar as well. Both countries have a strong tradition of eating rye bread. Salmon, herring, and whitefish are key components of their culinary repertoire.
- Denmark and Finland commonly eat hearty stews and soups, utilizing local ingredients to create comforting meals. The use of rye bread and potatoes in traditional dishes is another shared characteristic. Dairy products, including cheeses and milk-based desserts, are common in these countries.
- Norway is yet another Germanic country on this list. Both countries enjoy eating fish, especially salmon. However, in general Norwegians tend to eat more seafood than people in Finland. Potatoes are a staple in these countries. Root vegetables like carrots and turnips complement their dishes.
- Estonia and Finland have similar languages. They also have similar food as well. One prominent dish found in both countries is blood sausage, known as mustamakkara in Finland and verivorst in Estonia. Additionally, both nations indulge in meat stews like the Finnish “lihapullat” and the Estonian “hakklihakaste.”
- Czechia is the only landlocked country on this list, but its food also has Germanic and Slavic influences, just like Finland. Bread, made of wheat and rye, and potatoes are key ingredients in their cuisines. In addition, pork and chicken are the two most popular meats consumed in these countries.
The Least Similar Food to Finland
In stark contrast to Finland, the five countries with the least similar food have a much warmer climate. Moreover, these countries are far less developed than Finland. Compared to Finland, these countries do not often eat pork products or cheese, two of the most prominent ingredients in Finnish cuisine.
- Chad is mostly desert land. It is a sparsely populated, landlocked country in Africa. Chad’s cuisine is far different from Finland’s, since it heavily relies on food ingredients like millet, sorghum, rice, corn, and beans.
- South Sudan is another landlocked country in Africa that borders Sudan. Cassava is the most common starch there, however South Sudanese eat their fair share of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country.
- Central African Republic is another former French colony in the middle of Africa. The majority of the country’s diet is based on cassava and yams. Bananas and plantains are also an extremely common source of food in the country.
- Micronesia is a group of small tropical islands in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, their diet is heavily based on seafood. Furthermore, coconut and cassava are a bigger part of Micronesia’s cuisine than Finland’s.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is located in the center of Africa. The country features vast swathes of dense rainforests. As a result, its people eat a wide variety of tropical fruits and vegetables. Cassava is the most commonly eaten food in the country.
Finland’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Pork, Chicken
Fruit: Banana, Apple
Vegetable: Tomato, Carrot
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.