allegraTop food executives are more optimistic over the economic health of the UK food and beverage sector than they were 12 months ago . The majority of food businesses experienced like-for-like sales growth in the 3 months to December 2009.

Senior decision makers remain cautious about prospects for 2010, with recovery across the wider economy expected to take 12-18 months.

Building customer loyalty and innovation are critical for future corporate success within the food and beverage sector as competition intensifies. ‘Anti-brands’ and artisanal concepts are rapidly growing in popularity.

Key findings

Improving trading environment but cautious times ahead

• The current trading environment has improved significantly in the last 12 months . Double the number of top executives in 2009 report the climate is positive compared with 2008 However, trading in January 2010 has been difficult due to severe UK weather conditions

• Business leaders will remain cautious during 2010. 86% of industry leaders predict full economic recovery will take longer than 12 months

Competition within the marketplace intensifies

• The depreciating pound is a major concern for businesses and has resulted in increased input costs for many food and beverage operators

• As financial institutions impose stricter lending criteria, access to capital is one of the key challenges currently facing businesses within the food sector

Consumer value consciousness will last beyond the recession

• UK consumers have benefitted from increased discounting and promotions in the marketplace during the recession. Consumer scrutiny of the trade-off between price and quality will be an enduring legacy of the recession

Ethical issues take a back seat in the recession

• Increased consumer demand for value during the recent economic downturn has resulted in weakened appetite for more expensive ethically sourced products

Pret A Manger is voted most admired brand

• Pret A Manger is currently the most admired food sector brand, revered for its product quality, consistency, forward thinking and superior execution

• Waitrose is the most admired UK supermarket brand

Building customer loyalty is paramount for future success

• Investment in staff and training will increase over the next 5 years as building customer loyalty becomes a critical corporate competency

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. Three quarters of businesses are planning to increase investment in staff training in the next 3 to 5 years

• Utilising social networking media will be of paramount importance for businesses here forward to promote, engage and interact with customers

• Brand identity is growing in importance . Strong brands will also have to develop a ‘local feel’ to appeal to consumers’ changing tastes

• ‘Anti-brands’ and artisanal concepts are a niche but fast growing trend

• The capacity to innovate will be a crucial business success factor as competition intensifies in this marketplace

Editor’s Notes
Allegra Strategies is a London-based management consultancy and has accurately predicted trends in the UK foodservice market since 1999. Allegra is recognised as one of the global leaders in coffee sector and foodservice research.

• 311 in-depth interviews with senior executives across food retail, foodservice and hospitality and food and beverage suppliers
• Typically CEOs, Managing Directors, Country and Regional Managers, Marketing and Brand Directors and Senior Operational Managers

Further information: www.allegra.co.uk

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