Consumer Markets

Food & Drink

Deals Activity: Moderate

Restructuring Activity: Very high

Inflation ramps up pressure on food and drink manufacturers.

Deals activity in Food & Drink

  1. 1. Deal flow has remained remarkably steady in recent years, punctuated by a rapid uptick in Q1 2021 after a pause in activity during the pandemic.
  2. 2. We anticipate market consolidation in what remains a fragmented sector in the UK to spark an uptick in deal activity in the coming months.

Restructuring activity in Food & Drink

Over 2022, restructuring potential in the Food & Drink sector has increased from ‘High’ to ‘Very High’.

Input cost inflation has negatively impacted margins. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated the situation, especially with respect to the cost and availability of grains, cooking oil and fertiliser.

Weakened consumer purchasing power has led to volume pressures especially for smaller brands, with large retailers also seeking to rationalise ranges.

Companies across the sector have also been exposed to staff shortages and significant wage inflation following Brexit and COVID-19.

Price pressures have also stemmed from the rising costs of shipping and distribution - something which is particularly problematic for bulky, low margin products; as well as packaging costs such as aluminium cans and cardboard.

Food & Drink

Input cost inflation and commodity price volatility is putting extreme pressure on UK food and drink manufacturers. Having shown impressive resilience dealing with the twin operational and financial shocks of the pandemic and Brexit, the rocketing cost of ingredients, labour and energy have combined to further squeeze margins in the sector.

Availability of labour has been a particular challenge over the past two years, resulting in rampant wage inflation and, in some cases, increased instances of quality concerns. Manufacturers are urgently reviewing supply chains to ensure resilience and avoid costly production disruption.

Retailer range reviews result in 'winners and losers' as suppliers face delistings. Proposed legislation around high salt and sugar content has already seen significant product reformulation, with consumer demand also shifting towards healthier alternatives.

Such a challenging market presents significant opportunities for market consolidation to generate scale efficiencies and improve overall performance.

Find Your Expert

Will Wright is Interpath Lead for Consumer Markets, which includes Food & Drink as one of three core segments. Thomas Swiers leads our approach to Food & Drink nationally. For a full list of our senior people with experience in the sector use the button below.

Our senior team