"Generally, food manufacturers have been very focused on finding the right person for a given role," said Ed O'Shea, md of EOS Consulting. This process would typically involve an in-depth review of that role and a detailed search for the best candidates.
"Instead, because of changes in the marketplace, we are increasingly being asked to use less rigorous processes," said O'Shea. "But they can end up proving 'penny-wise and pound-foolish'."
With retailers putting manufacturers under more pricing pressure, the trend had been growing since the end of 2008, he added. Typical consultants' fees are 18% of first year salary for a detailed search and up to 28% for a full search and recruitment process, the company said.
Ian Simkins, director of Manchester-based Silven Recruitment, takes a rather different view. "A number of clients have moved to preferred supplier lists, and are offering reduced fees for greater volume," he said.
"But at the same time, many have been spending more on in-house resourcing teams."
He added: "If anything, today's recruitment and decision-making processes are more rigorous and professional than ever before."