We all know how important the food and beverage sector is to the UK. It contributes an estimated £28.2 billion to the economy alone and accounts for over 400,000 jobs. Building on this success requires further innovation, agility and a willingness to embrace change.
In November 2017, we held our annual food and beverage dinner. The evening was a great success, and not just because of the delicious sushi on offer at Nobu’s newest venture in Shoreditch, London. We were lucky enough to have a room of the sector's leaders and innovators and it was clear that this group will not be resting on its laurels. There is a real sense of purpose and determination to embrace change.
Several interesting themes surfaced during the evening, as attendees discussed what is needed to create a vibrant future for the F&B sector.
A healthy mix of product and marketing innovation
The sector continues to thrive as it adapts to changing consumer behaviour, particularly around healthy eating and the demand for convenience. The growth of the 'free from' category, expected to be worth £673 million by 2020, as well as getting products to consumers quicker through 'dash buttons' and meal kit delivery services, are great examples of recent innovations.
The opportunities and challenges lie in continuing to satisfy these trends without sacrificing product taste or quality. Today's consumers want the best of both worlds. As one CEO commented, “it is the industry’s challenge to solve”.
While we are seeing some progress, product innovation must advance at the same pace as developments in the marketing department. This must move to the top of the industry’s agenda.
Time to lead innovation once again
The UK's F&B industry has a track record of leading innovation. From the first Stilton cheese in the 1700’s to the UK’s first gastro pub in the 1990’s, we have a lot to be proud of. Now is the time to ensure that we maintain our lead and global reputation for innovation.
This requires businesses to get back to 'first principles', focusing on what the customer really wants and building from there – using the best ingredients and processes - and amplifying with the best marketing. One guest’s company has had great success using the first principles approach in the development of a new type of healthy snack bar.
A CEO's vision is key
The role of the CEO in grabbing these opportunities and propelling the industry forward is crucial. This is particularly true at a time in which we have seen a lot of movement at the top of the sector’s biggest businesses.
Having the best people, not just the technology, will separate the winners and losers over the next few years. A CEO with a clear vision and infectious energy will attract the talent that product and marketing teams need to thrive.
Building the right culture and making F&B an attractive career choice is becoming increasingly important. Having a great team in place increases the ability to unlock cash in the balance sheet or take advantage of tax reliefs for research and development projects.
If you would like any further information about how we can support you and your business in preparing for the future of the food and beverage sector, please contact Trefor Griffith.
Report on unlocking working capital and unclaimed R&D tax relief in food and beverage businesses
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