Food and drink manufacturers show positive signs of strengthening sales and a confident export market, a survey by the Food and Drink Federation has found.
This is the first time that the Food and Drink Federation’s quarterly business confidence survey has found optimistic results for consecutive quarters since its launch in 2010.
The food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK. Over the past year, it has struggled with rising ingredient costs and the uncertainty of the UK economy, although businesses have reported a rise in confidence after continued investment in R&D, product launches and HR.
Nearly half of all respondents to the survey reported growth compared to the previous quarter, with expectations that this will continue to grow throughout the rest of the year. A third of respondents reported growth in export markets, with confidence that this will strengthen in the run up to Christmas.
FDF’s economic and commercial services director, Steve Barnes, spoke of the positive news and praised food and drink manufacturers for ‘holding their nerve’ in tough times.
Speaking about the industry’s future plans, Mr Barnes said: “Looking ahead, we expect to see both our domestic and overseas sales increase as we head towards Christmas. Our commitment to grow our industry by 20% by 2020 is ambitious and we remain confident that we will achieve this goal.”
These positive results were echoed by the CBI. It reported that the food and drink industry has helped bolster UK manufacturing confidence, along with the chemical industry. The CBI’s latest monthly industrial trends survey saw fewer manufacturers report below average order books, compared to flat results for August.
Anna Leach, CBI head of economic analysis, was not as confident as the FDF of positive growth in the coming months. She said: “Domestic and overseas demand have improved in this survey following last month’s falls, providing a foundation for somewhat better output growth expectations.
“But uncertainty is expected to build through the autumn – with key decisions to be made in the Eurozone and the approach of the US fiscal cliff – meaning that conditions are likely to remain difficult for UK manufacturers.”