The food and beverage industry leads most others when it comes to weathering the economic downturn, with 49% saying their companies are “thriving and growing,” according to a recent survey by consulting firm RSM McGladrey. The survey, conducted in the spring, reached 124 food and beverage company executives among its 1,061 respondents overall. Among the findings: 91% of the food and beverage respondents said they were very or somewhat optimistic about growth prospects, a rise of 20 percentage points from last year’s survey; food and beverage companies are more aggressive about introducing new products and analyzing customer/product profitability; and this year, 16% of food and beverage companies say they will invest $10 million or more in capital projects (up 10 percentage points from 2009).