By Chengyi Tu, Joel Carr & Samir Suweis
The easy access to large data sets has allowed for leveraging methodology in network physics and complexity science to disentangle patterns and processes directly from the data, leading to key insights in the behavior of systems. Here we use country specific food production data to study binary and weighted topological properties of the bipartite country-food production matrix. This country-food production matrix can be: 1) transformed into overlap matrices which embed information regarding shared production of products among countries, and or shared countries for individual products, 2) identify subsets of countries which produce similar commodities or subsets of commodities shared by a given country allowing for visualization of correlations in large networks, and 3) used to rank country fitness (the ability to produce a diverse array of products weighted on the type of food commodities) and food specialization (quantified on the number of countries producing a specific food product weighted on their fitness). Our results show that, on average, countries with high fitness produce both low and high specializion food commodities, whereas nations with low fitness tend to produce a small basket of diverse food products, typically comprised of low specializion food commodities.