Delegates at the IGD convention said rising input costs were still the biggest challenge for the grocery industry, ahead of overseas competition, slow consumer spending and difficulties raising capital.

Two years ago soaring commodity and energy price hikes led to rampant food price inflation, and with currency deflation, last year's poll of senior industry delegates found 44% were still concerned about input costs.

But with food price inflation broadly under control since February, the IGD poll which showed 37% still concerned about input costs suggests commodity prices remain a long-term concern. When asked when oil prices would reach $150 a barrel, almost half believed it would happen in five years (49%) while 23% thought 10. Just 5% felt it would not happen in their lifetime.

Optimism about the economy was cautious, but there were clear signs most business leaders believed rock bottom had been reached. Of those polled, 45% believed the economy would be 'slightly better' in 2010, while 34% thought it would be 'about the same'. Just 15% thought the 'worst was yet to come'.

The IGD also polled a sample of 1,091 consumers on their attitudes to money and found the recession may have altered their behaviour for good. More than half (54%) said they would be more careful about spending money in the future than they were currently, regardless of economic recovery. Only 5% predicted they would be more frivolous.

When asked how they pictured grocery shopping in 2012, many shoppers said their behaviour would change, with 22% shopping more online, 15% shopping less on the high street, and 29% shopping at discounters more. However, 26% said they would shop more at farmers' markets and 23% more at specialist stores. 

"Shoppers intend to keep changing their habits, seeking more from less, and they expect the food and grocery industry to keep delivering better value," said IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch (pictured).

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