It’s been a bruising year for food and drink suppliers but the winners were those who attacked their cost base and packed a punch with ads and NPD, reports Ivan Castano

Profit warnings, hostile takeover bids, restructures, layoffs and a constant clamour for bigger promotions and lower prices – last year was bruising for UK food and drink suppliers.

As a result, the UK’s top 150 food and drink suppliers delivered the slowest rate of growth in fi ve years, up 7.7%, while margins dipped from 6.8% to 6.5%, a 10-year low. There were some notable casualties.

As well as the much-publicised declines recorded in the ready meals and dairy sectors, Tate & Lyle was forced into a major restructuring as profi ts slumped by 86%; Heinz sold its frozen and chilled foods division following an 8% sales drop-off; a distress sale saw Serious Food Company snapped up by Noble Foods; and declining profi ts at Wellness Foods resulted in the departure of senior management.