Food And Drink Firms Raise Growth Estimates After Brexit Vote

Brexit has failed to shake Scotland's "bullish'' food-and-drink sector as half of firms said they raised growth estimates after the European Union (EU) referendum.

The fifth annual Bank of Scotland food and drink report surveyed 100 manufacturers across the country in the weeks after the vote.

Researchers found half of those surveyed said the result led them to raise business growth estimates while 25% dropped estimates.

A total of 42% plan to create more jobs following the referendum result. Overall, firms expect to create a net average of 50 jobs by 2021, up three from last year.

However, four in ten companies identified leaving the EU as the biggest challenge facing the sector in the next five years, followed by overseas competition (30%).

Further findings indicated confidence within the industry as firms expect to increase turnover by an average of 24% over the next five years, up 5% on 2015.

Businesses plan to invest an average of 56% of their current annual turnover in the same period, a marked increase on last year's 40% figure.

More than two-thirds (69%) of Scottish firms expect to engage new international customers over the next five years, up 7% on 2015.

The most favoured region for international investment remains western Europe (48%), followed by the Middle East (42%) and North America (38%).

Jane Clark-Hutchison, regional director, mid-markets, Central Scotland at Bank of Scotland, said the industry target of £16.5 billion turnover by 2017 seems "entirely achievable''.

She added: "It's incredibly heartening that, just weeks after the EU referendum result, our survey shows that bullish food and drink firms expect to grow, invest, recruit and innovate.''

Scottish Food & Drink chief executive James Withers said: "There is real ambition in the Scottish food-and-drink sector that, alongside world-leading collaboration between the industry and government, has driven a 40% growth in turnover since 2007.

"The outcome of the EU referendum is causing some uncertainty around the industry's future workforce and how we trade with Europe, but change is nothing new to the sector and there will be opportunities too as we build new markets for our produce.

"Food and drink has been a bright spot in Scotland's economic story for nearly 10 years now. This report is further evidence that we have all the ingredients for that to continue.''

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