Blog: Katy Askew2013 set to be a year of challenge

Katy Askew | 2 January 2013

Returning to our desks after the Christmas break, many of us somewhat rounder for the experience, our minds turn to what 2013 will hold. 

I must admit to feeling a certain natural optimism at this time of year, overcome by a sense that the year ahead is full of potential and believing - against all the evidence - that my new year's resolutions will actually be accomplished. However, even I must concede that 2013 is likely to prove another year of tough trading for our industry. 

While the fiscal cliff may have been averted in the US, the global economic picture remains decidedly gloomy. In its 2013 outlook, Goldman Sachs analysts predicted that the global economy would see growth of about 3% over the coming 12 months, with the major economies proving laggards with growth - or indeed contraction in western Europe - expected to remain on a par to 2012's levels. 

Continued austerity measures, falling real incomes, weak consumer confidence and rising food prices - driven by last year's poor grain harvest - do not bode well for those operating in the food sector. 

However, as is often the case, necessity could well prove the mother of invention in the coming 12 months. Perhaps, as meat prices are driven up by higher feed costs, minds will focus on the development of alternative sources of protein. We could also witness increased innovation in the supply chain to reduce food waste and improve efficiency. With estimates putting total US food waste at about 40% - and much of this occuring before food even reaches the consumer - this is clearly long-overdue. Meanwhile, the need to develop secure lines of supply will likely result in further action on the sustainability front. 

Later this month, we will be taking a detailed look at what 2013 could have in store in our four-part management briefing. We will also be asking you for your perspectives on the year ahead in the just-food 2013 confidence survey, so thinking caps on. 

In other news, we would like to welcome a new member to the just-food fold. Our managing editor, Dean Best, and his wife Karen became the proud parents of Matthew George Best on 22 December. I am pleased to report that Matthew and his (tired) parents are all doing well and I am sure that you will join me in wishing them all the best in the coming weeks. 


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