Despite the soaring costs of ingredients and energy; growing industrial unrest about pay and pensions; and skills shortages in the sector, business leaders at Food Manufacture's Business Leaders' forum held in London in January were upbeat about the year ahead.
There were around 50 people in the room from businesses large and small and covering a range of categories both branded and own-label. But, despite the overwhelming optimism shown, was this group truly representative of the whole sector? They were, after all, primarily chief executives and very senior directors, whose job it is to exude positive vibes and see opportunities among the threats that might surround them.
It was surprising to see an absence of complaints about retailers exercising disproportionate muscle in their discussion. It's a big issue that has been raised at every one of the previous Business Leaders' events we have organised over the years.
So does it mean this issue has gone away? Or has there been a brief respite before the multiples begin to turn the screw on their suppliers again?
Clearly Tesco's renewed focus on its home market and its plans to raise the appeal of its food offering will have its impact. And you can bet that this attention to service and products by the biggest supermarket in the land will not be ignored by its competitors.
So, how positive do you feel about the year ahead?
Have your say in our state-of-the-industry Survey 2012. There's a copy in the May magazine or you can fill it in at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/XBSHFWC for a chance to win £100 to spend at Amazon.
Rick Pendrous is Editor of FoodManufacture.co.uk's sister title, the monthly magazine Food Manufacture.
To find out if you are eligible for a free copy of Food Manufacture, click here or contact our circulation team on 0800 652 6512.