The Food and Drink Exporters Association (FDEA) has responded to research indicating that there is optimism within the food industry about future growth despite “increased costs”.

The research, which was carried out by UK business advisory firm Johnston Carmichael, found that 68% of UK food and drink businesses were optimistic about future growth despite costs continuing to be a “significant challenge”. This figure was up from 60% a year prior.

According to the firm, almost all research participants experienced a rise in costs over the previous 12 months, with respondents citing energy bills (30%) as the top source of increased costs. This was followed by labour costs at second (25%) and raw materials (23%).

The research showed that respondents were seeking “operational efficiencies” including supply chain review, but the vast majority said they had increased their consumer prices. Of those who increased their prices, more than half (52%) sought increases of 5-10%.

Nicola Thomas, director, FDEA said: “Despite a challenging backdrop, it is encouraging to see that finding new customers in export markets is the second most important primary growth driver for survey respondents.

“There is a good reason for optimism amid the global uncertainty as Europe is very much open for business, consumers in emerging markets have an appetite for – and money to spend on – imported foods, and Made in Britain is a very powerful, internationally recognised hallmark of quality, innovation, food safety and security.

“One key to success is for UK food and drink businesses to focus on what they do best and outsource the rest to specialists who are invaluable in helping to mitigate some of risks around export including logistics and labelling, customs and compliance.”