The findings from the online survey of 438 respondents, conducted during May before the surprise results of the general election inevitably concentrated on fears about Brexit.
However, comparing this year’s results with those of the survey last year, it was clear that expectations had noticeably deteriorated.
Positivity appeared in short supply, with some results standing out more than others. Fewer respondents expected consumer spending to pick up this year, with 49% agreeing with this statement, compared with 67% last year.
Raw material price rises
At the same time, 89% expected raw material price rises to cause increasing headaches this year compared with 72% last year. And 72% reported rising energy bills this year, compared with 57% last year.
“I think increasing raw material cost will be a critical issue on the whole food market,” remarked one respondent. Meanwhile, a dairy foods manager commented: “Depreciation of the currency has a negative effect on our business.” It was a view expressed by many.
That said, plans for capital spending this year had increased slightly to 61% this year compared with 57% last year. Against this, recruitment plans appeared to be virtually on hold, with 48% intending to take on more staff this year compared with 49% last year.
Another quite striking finding in the survey was the increase in numbers of respondents that planned to do more business in the foodservice sector this year (56% compared with 41%).