Food and Drink sector raises expectations
Food and drink firms in England and Wales have raised their growth forecasts and plan to create more than 75,000 jobs over the next five years, according to a study by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. The industry is forecasting 19% growth in the next five years, up three percentage points from 2015.
Just over half of firms said that the build up to the EU referendum had a negative impact on their business – the majority of firms said it had affected their long-term planning (89%) and their investment plans (82%) before the vote. However, post-Brexit, it would seem that the sector is putting the referendum behind it. Almost half of firms said that planned investment in their business had increased since the vote result, twice as many as the 22% who said it had fallen.
Food and drink producers still plan to achieve growth by entering new export markets, with 30% focusing their growth ambitions overseas – the same figure as in the 2015 report. The number of exporting firms targeting Western Europe has declined from 60% last year to 47% this year, though it remains the top target for the sector.
Andrew Connors, head of client propositions at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, comments: “Our research shows a relatively confident and upbeat sector which recognises the challenges ahead and is finding ways to address them. In particular food manufacturers are working together more to improve productivity through joint ventures.”