The inside track from our 2018 Food Forum: sector sentiment around growth, Brexit and trends

November 27, 2018

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by Neil Sutton Partner

Email +44 (0)7802 794770

by Alexander Priestley Director

Email +44 (0)7901 090105

We held our annual PwC Food Forum earlier this month – a get together over lunch of shareholders and management teams across the UK food and drink sector. With strong representation across different categories, including branded and private label players, we took the opportunity to to check in on sentiment regarding three important areas for the industry today – growth outlook for 2019, Brexit impact (or not…) and the biggest trends for the sector in the next 12 months. We’ve summarised the views of the 50 attendees below.

Growth looks positive for the UK Food & Drink industry in 2019…

Despite speculation of consumer headwinds, the industry is likely to remain buoyant in 2019 with the majority of attendees confident of meeting or exceeding their targets; only 4% believe growth will be challenging. Interestingly, when ranked by level of confidence, the top 10% all have products focused around consumer health.

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A high majority believe Brexit will have minimal impact on their business.

Where businesses did feel that Brexit would have a negative impact was the cost of raw materials. Further concern was around the ability to access key export markets in Europe and the availability of a continued labour supply.

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Environmental concerns are likely to be at the forefront of minds over the next 12 months. 

There was a clear consensus around the biggest trends for 2019, with both packaging and demand for plant based food high on everyone’s list of things to focus on; both areas that will have a material and beneficial impact on the wider environment.

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So what?

It appears the UK food and drink industry has a positive view on prospects for the next 12 months. We came away reassured by over 95% of attendees being confident that they will meet or exceed budget next year. Whilst the outcome and impact of Brexit remains unclear, it’s clear that the consumer shifts towards general wellbeing (e.g. healthier eating, preventative measures, use of supplements etc) and long-term care for the environment are the areas likely to be high on the agenda in the boardroom.

For further Brexit information visit our Beyond Brexit webpage

by Neil Sutton Partner

Email +44 (0)7802 794770

by Alexander Priestley Director

Email +44 (0)7901 090105