Members of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) have revealed in a survey that concerns are mounting within the food and drink sector and confidence is becoming more fragile.
The survey coincides with quarterly figures from UK retailers showing food sales at their highest levels since 2013, suggesting a disparity between business and consumer confidence levels.
Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), a majority of food and drink companies responding to FDF’s survey have reported increased ingredient prices, a drop in product margins, and concerns for the future raised by their EU workforce.
More than two-thirds (69.5%) of respondents were less confident about the UK business environment, with only around one in 10 (11.2%) more confident.
FDF is calling for an industrial strategy partnership with the government to support the development of food and drink manufacturing, a sector in which the UK has a competitive advantage.
As revealed earlier this month, the impact of Brexit is set to cost Scotland’s food and drink sector around £150m, which could result in around 1,500 job losses.
Ian Wright, director general of the FDF, said: “We share the government’s view that we need to make the best of Brexit. Food and drink industry confidence is low. Slower revenue growth, coupled with prolonged business uncertainty, is affecting the industry’s ability to invest.
“The assurances we heard from government last week must be underpinned by credible plans for restoring confidence and negotiating a workable future relationship with the EU. Working with government through an industrial strategy partnership, we believe we can counterbalance uncertainty arising from the EU exit process and secure world-class status for the sector.”
The FDF’s survey results reflect the sentiment of one-third of its full membership, including micro, small, medium and large food and drink manufacturers.