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Food and Beverage 2024 Trends and Outlook for the UK and Ireland

A survey conducted by Aptean surveyed over 100 food processors, manufacturers, and distributors in the UK and Ireland. The survey revealed that most companies are in a growth mindset, expecting to generate more revenue in 2023 than the previous year. Rising inflation, higher operating costs, and fluctuating material availability were the main challenges faced by the industry. Despite these challenges, most companies remain confident about their 2023 performance and plan to carry that growth mindset into 2024. Key industry leaders are pursuing initiatives to drive growth in an adverse climate, such as spinning out their snacking and cereal arm into a separate organization, making the biggest acquisition in five years, and expanding their production sites. Many companies are also protecting their margins by maintaining record-level prices despite falling inflation.

Food and Beverage Industry's Growth Mindset and Automation

  • Food and beverage companies are passing price increases onto consumers, reducing the impact of high overheads.
  • 90% of food manufacturers anticipate higher year-on-year revenue in 2023, compared to 79% of distributors and 76% of processors.
  • Automation is critical for tackling growth barriers in the food industry, with 93% of companies surveyed in the process of digital transformation.
  • Automation has significantly increased business revenue and profitability, with food processors, manufacturers, and distributors using technology experiencing 1.8 percentage point higher revenue growth in the most recent full trading year than companies relying on manual operations.
  • Top tech investments for 2024 include CRM systems (65%), ERP software (50%), SCM systems (65%), OEE software (47%), EAM software (65%), shipping software (43%), QMS (60%), WMS (41%), and PLM software (59%).
  • Automation priorities for 2024 will focus on end-to-end enhancements through ERP software and cost-optimisation of niche areas.
  • One in four manufacturers lists moving from a reactive to a predictive maintenance model as one of their top three goals for 2024.

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