RSM McGladrey, Inc., and McGladrey & Pullen, LLP, Minneapolis, say responses to McGladrey’s fifth annual "Manufacturing and Wholesale Distribution Survey" show that the food and beverage industry leads all other industry segments when it comes to weathering the economic downturn, with 49 percent indicating their companies are “thriving and growing.”

Conducted in the spring, McGladrey’s 2010 Manufacturing and Wholesale Distribution National Surveyasked leaders of U.S.-based manufacturing and wholesale distribution enterprises to provide perspectives on the current state of their companies and industry and the strategies they are implementing to sustain or grow profitability in the coming year. Participants responded to questions pertaining to current business conditions, domestic and global business strategies, cost structure, technology initiatives, operations and other issues.

“Of the 1,061 respondents included in the final survey analysis, 124 leaders (around 12 percent of the total sample) represented the F&B industry,” said RSM McGladrey Partner/Managing Director Cristin Singer. “McGladrey’s Food and Beverage Report summarizes these responses and provides unique insights into what these companies are currently doing, and what they’re planning.”

Among McGladrey’s 2010 food and beverage report findings:

·         Ninety-one percent of food and beverage respondents report being “very optimistic” or “somewhat optimistic” about growth prospects for their companies, a 20 percentage point rise from the 2009 survey.

·         When compared to all industries, food and beverage companies are more aggressive about introducing new products and analyzing customer/product profitability. 

·         The percentage of food and beverage companies that say working globally is part of their business strategy rose from 64 percent in 2009 to 75 percent this year.

·         This year, 16 percent of food and beverage companies say they will invest $10 million or more in capital projects (up 10 percentage points from 2009). 

·         Two-thirds of the respondents expect price jumps in raw materials and energy.

·         Because food and beverage companies weathered the recession better than most industries, their hiring needs over the next year are not as great. However, companies that are hiring are seeing skill shortages for entry-level, supervisory, quality control, sales and warehouse workers.

“The emphasis on introducing new products and analyzing customer/product profitability reflects the critical balance food and beverage companies must strike between developing profitable products to meet fast-changing consumer tastes while accurately forecasting sales,” said Singer.