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Survey Report

Global Food & Beverage Survey Report

Casualty|Credit, Political Risk and Terrorism|Cyber Risk Management|Medioambiental|Marine|Property
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April 7, 2022

WTW surveyed 250 global senior executives in leading food and beverage companies, to understand how the industry is managing global risks and which opportunities lie ahead.

The world is emerging from the pandemic into a period of growth and recovery – shadowed by political instability.

  • So how are these events landing in shopping baskets and on tables?
  • Where are the biggest opportunities for the food and beverage industry?
  • And what risks and challenges are businesses looking out for over the next few years?

To find answers to these questions, we surveyed key decision makers in companies across the globe, from food production and processing to brewing and soft drinks.

Survey sample and methodology

Our survey was carried out by our research partner, Coleman Parkes, in January-February 2022 using phone-to-web methodology.

We received 250 responses from global senior executives in leading food and beverage companies globally.

Key findings

Environment and reputation are the biggest risk factors

Business leaders named the environment as their greatest external risk (40%). Natural resources and climate change were ranked as the greatest environmental risk factors overall.

Brand and reputation, which is linked to ESG issues such as sustainability and anti corruption, was the biggest internal risk (46%).

The industry's top risks may not be fully covered

More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said their company had no specific insurance for environmental risks, although they thought these risks were covered by other insurance.

This figure was 63% for cyber risks, 54% for reputation and 40% for product recall, all of which ranked highly as risk factors.

The legacy of the pandemic continues to impact the industry

Supply chain issues (37%) and problems attracting and retaining talent (37%) topped the list of obstacles to achieving strategic objectives.

Continuing shortages of warehousing, staff and shipping containers were expected to have an impact over the next two years.

The lessons of Covid are being turned into opportunities

Businesses transformed themselves to adapt in the pandemic. Now, as the world reopens, they are looking to maximise the potential from these changes – 45% said continuing with adaptations, such as automation and digitalization, were among their greatest opportunities.

Geopolitical uncertainty is a barrier to addressing risks

External factors beyond the organisation’s control, including geopolitical factors (60%) and external economic factors (60%), are seen as the biggest challenges to addressing risks over the medium term.

Lack of access to suitable risk transfer solutions also ranked highly (43%) as did a lack of board buy-in (45%).

Challenges to address risks over next 3 to 5 years

This chart demonstrates the challenges for companies to address risks over the next 3 to 5 years. With external economic and - description below

geopolitical factors at 60% and external regulatory factors at 50%. Followed by lack of board buy-in at 45%

External economic and geopolitical factors highlighted as biggest challenges to addressing risks

Businesses are prioritising stability and resilience

Senior executives named stabilising the business (41%), as their top priority over the next two years, ranking this well above growth.

Businesses are also focusing on resilience – 97% have a formal process for business continuity planning, 63% of which are linked to corporate KPIs.

Companies are optimistic about the future

Despite the challenges of the last two years and ongoing headwinds, 70% of food and beverage organisations are optimistic that the sector will be more profitable over the next two years.

Organic is the key food trend

Organic foods topped our list of greatest business opportunities over the next two years at 48%. Vegan and vegetarian diets (30%) are seen as less beneficial globally.

Download your report

The last two years has seen perhaps the greatest disruptive event in living memory. Just as things were getting back to some kind of normality, the conflict in Ukraine brought new instability and sent prices rocketing, with potential for further supply chain disruption.

Yet the industry always adapts – it has to, in order to keep shelves stocked and food and drink on the tables of the world.

We’re seeing this in the response to the pandemic as businesses look to turn the adaptations they made to keep going into opportunities for the future.

It’s likely we’ll see more nearshoring of production, investment in automation and strengthening of supply chains as the industry prioritises stability and continuity in the short to medium term.

To learn more, download your free survey report by completing the short form at the top of this page.

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Director, Direct & Facultative
WTW

Food and Drink Practice Leader

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