Food and drink manufacturers ‘stepping into the limelight’

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Manufacturers in the food and drink sector are feeling positive about growth after years of ‘living in the shadows’, according to the BDO Food & Drink Report 2016.

Around eight in ten (79%) manufacturers in the sector feel positive about the future of the industry, according to the report – which is compiled in association with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME).

Even more (86%) predict that their own businesses will enjoy growth of 20% or more in the coming twelve months. Most (65%) see that growth coming through new product development.

Further access to domestic markets (60%) and international markets (43%) are the other main causes for optimism among respondents.

Despite the general optimism, challenges around skills and pricing pressures continue to concern industry leaders. Seven in 10 said they were struggling to bring in the skills they need to succeed, while 82% said pricing wars were squeezing their operating margins.

Paul Davies, head of food & drink manufacturing at BDO LLP, confirmed that the mood was largely positive, despite “pressures on pricing and margins remaining hugely challenging”.

“It’s been a tough few years for food and drink companies, but it seems they are finally stepping out of the shadows and focusing on future growth,” he said.

He did however warn that further government investment would be necessary to sustain the industry’s future growth.

He said: “We all know that the manufacturing sector plays a critical role in rebalancing our economy and driving long-term sustainable growth for the UK, yet little action is being taken to support the food and drink industry, the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK.”