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An MNB user sent us a copy of the 2005 Survey of US Food and Beverage Companies, conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, looks at the priorities and expectations of many of these companies:

• 75 percent of food and beverage executives say that successful product development is the area offering the most opportunity for company growth, followed by successful marketing of a product (63 percent) and operating efficiencies (62 percent)

• 63 percent of respondents believed that competition with larger companies is a critical issue to their company. Other critical issues include food safety, with 57 percent, and fuel costs, with 39 percent

• 82 percent see an increase in their company's global expansion plans for U.S. operations, with 56 percent reporting that the weakened U.S. dollar has not had an impact on international business or expansion plans

• 74 percent expect the level of mergers, acquisitions and restructuring in the industry to increase in 2005 compared to current levels

• 77 percent anticipate current health and regulatory concerns to increase their company's costs by more than five percent in the next five years

• 78 percent plan to increase product development spending in 2005 versus 2004

• 64 percent report that their companies will see the greatest potential for growth in the "better for you" category, which includes better for you products (42 percent), organic foods (15 percent), obesity-addressing (five percent) and nutraceuticals (two percent); ethnic cuisine is also considered an area of opportunity, with 24 percent seeing growth potential in that category

• 64 percent expect their company's employment will increase in both 2005 and 2006 compared to 2004, when only 46 percent felt industry employment would increase in 2005 and 49 percent in 2006.
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