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    ‘Inflation fades but food industry still facing challenges’

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    Although both food inflation and all items inflation are fading, the group notes that UK food businesses will have to contend with the challenge of maintaining low prices while urgently driving volume growth, stated a recent report.

    IGD has released its latest Economics Viewpoint report titled Striving for Growth, which outlines the challenges the grocery industry faces in delivering growth.

    The report states, “Falling inflation creates a risk to businesses without price change. Added to this, is a profound shortage of digital, technical and engineering skills fueling the sector, compelling businesses and government to work together in raising the appeal of careers in food.”

    Meanwhile, IGD pointed to its latest Shopper data, which shows that families and individuals will continue to shop cautiously as factors such as debt and job insecurity affect spending habits during a time of slow growth.

    James Walton, Chief Economist at IGD, commented, “Although real-term wage growth is on an upward trajectory, partly due to the rise in the Minimum and Living Wage, the burden on household budgets is still considerable, and this is likely to drive more selective shopping choices, and greater competition among retailers.”

    IGD also highlights that the landscape of job security is becoming more fragile as redundancies rise and the number of vacancies falls. Within this picture, the report reveals that 36% of all adults plan to cut their spending on food and grocery shopping over the next few months. The study also shows that 43% of adults plan to buy fewer items in their regular food shop over the next few months.

    Despite the labour market being competitive in some sectors, the report acknowledges an urgent talent and skills shortage within the food and consumer goods sector. Within UK food and grocery, vacancies are markedly high, with an estimated 108k in food service currently.

    In response to 2023’s Independent Review into Labour Shortages in the Food Supply Chain, IGD is supporting the Food and Drink Sector Council in leading a Workforce Steering Group to address the talent shortage and raise appeal for the spectrum of careers in food and grocery.

    Part of this work will be a sector-wide campaign, rolled out this summer, mobilising food businesses, government, and the careers and employment sector to champion the breadth and depth of opportunities for all across the industry. IGD’s new Economics Viewpoint unpacks the need for food and consumer goods businesses to get ahead of the skills challenge and feed the talent pipeline for improved growth.

    Naomi Kissman, Director of Social Impact for IGD, said: “The food industry powers the everyday economy, employing one in eight people in the UK. A thriving food system relies on maintaining a skilled workforce. We have a long heritage of working with businesses and developing talent within the industry, as well as supporting young people to prepare for work. We’re delighted to be working more broadly with partners across the food system, and with government, to showcase the breadth and depth of opportunities it has to offer.”

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