Sixty-two percent of food and drinks manufacturers, suppliers and retailers increased their turnover in 2016, while 58% agree that the industry is in good health at the turn of the new year. This is according to new research from leading sales intelligence software provider, sales-I (

Based on a survey of 168 food and drink companies operating in the UK and US, the research examines how food and drink companies believe the industry will fare in 2020, with a focus on perceptions of Britain’s developing exit from the European Union.

Forty-seven percent of respondents see Brexit as a blow for the industry in the long term, while 20% believe it will have a positive impact on the industry. Thirty-three percent are unsure of what the outcome will be.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Sixty-one percent of respondents say new product innovation represents a major opportunity
  • However, almost half of the respondents (49%) view new technology adoption as a significant operational hurdle, while 48% cite finding and retaining new business as a big challenge
  • More than a third (37%) identify increased access to global markets as a promising possibility in the coming years
  • More than a quarter (28%) are optimistic about new advances in sales, marketing, and advertising campaigns

Commenting on the results, Paul Black, CEO of sales-i, says, “Last year was a real turning point for the industry, which is thriving and growing despite uncertain times. However, in order to maintain this momentum, companies of all shapes and sizes need to prioritise improvements in technology adoption, customer acquisition, and retention. These challenges aren’t unique to food and drink companies, but given the continued possibilities for change over the next two to five years, the industry must do all it can to safeguard its future.”

The survey also sheds light on how technology factors into the business strategies of companies within the industry, finding that:

  • More than two-thirds (65%) employ customer-centric tools such as business intelligence and CRM software
  • Of those who use these tools, the majority (59%) report that they have a positive influence on performance
  • A similar number (57%) percent remark that the ability to transform data into sales, marketing, and business development insights was a considerable benefit, and 47% say the same of its effect on maintaining customer relationships

“Too often, we talk about technology in the future tense”, says Black. “The truth is that many food and drink companies are putting it to brilliant use right now – and as it gets more sophisticated, and external economic pressures increase and multiply, it will only grow in importance.”

To read the findings of the research in full, download the free report: The Food and Drink Industry in 2017 and beyond: trends, challenges, and opportunities