There has been much speculation about the UK joining the euro as the pound slips toward parity, together with the pros and cons of losing the pound. It is a pity that less attention has been paid to the window of opportunity a weak pound presents for many companies, particularly in fmcg.

A quick glance at the performance of some of Britain's biggest players (Diageo, Compass, SABMiller, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Unilever, for instance) shows all significantly outperformed the FTSE100 in the past five years.

They should continue to do well in the current climate, too: they produce core goods and services everyone needs. A lot of agricultural produce is home-grown, so there is less to import than in other industries. These companies are well positioned to take advantage of the weak pound and become more competitive with their European rivals and expand their market penetration in foreign countries.

With the pound down 23% year-on-year against the euro, British producers should find themselves more competitive on price compared with overseas counterparts, making it easier for them to export.

However, there are a few glitches in this theory. The credit crunch in the UK is also affecting virtually all of its trading partners - Germany's GDP, for example, fell 2% in the last quarter of 2008.

Emerging markets such as China are also enduring slowdowns and there has been a dramatic slump in the Chinese Government's exports.

So far there has been little sign of a let up. But it will end and there are reasons to believe Britain will, in comparison to other leading nations, come through this recession without too much pain and relatively quickly.

Why? Well, events in the banking sector in the past week aside, we have a large, flexible and world-competitive finance sector. It may seem hard to believe at this time, but the world economy needs its banks to function, and Britain is well placed to take part in the global recovery. The UK is a hub for both international syndicated banking and foreign currency exchange, both essential services.

Despite the gloom, the news for the UK economy as a whole is not universally bad. For the food and drink sector, the picture is potentially still better. Demand traditionally holds up better in fmcg than elsewhere, and the weak pound gives the strongest UK companies plenty of export opportunities to explore.