Small food business owners speak out

by Eric Schroeder
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NORTHFIELD, ILL. — Taxes, general economic conditions and energy/fuel costs were the top three issues affecting the food industry during the second quarter of 2007, according to the latest International Profit Associates Small Business Research Board (S.B.R.B.) study released this month. The S.B.R.B. monitors the opinions of small business owners and managers on a variety of topics related to their own business as well as national and international issues that may impact their operations.

More than 770 owners of small and medium-size companies responded to the nationwide poll, with approximately 10% of the responses coming from the food industry. Most of the respondents were small businesses with approximately $25 million in annual sales. Rounding out the top five issues affecting industry were health care costs and government regulation, ranking fourth and fifth, respectively.

In addition to identifying top issues affecting the food industry, the quarterly poll of small business owners and managers also measured interest in expanding operations over the next 12 to 24 months. Only 29% said they intend to expand during this period, the survey said. The owners said they first intend to expand at current locations as well as provide more services. Adding new products and enhancing customer service finished third and fourth. Growth via the addition of locations or through acquisition tied for fifth.

According to the S.B.R.B. study, food industry owners intend to obtain greater efficiency from human resources. Improved staff training ranked first among the options for enhancing business efficiency during the second quarter, followed by adding staff, improving current automated systems, enhancing employee incentive programs and adding new automation and technology.

"Like other businesses, such as those in construction and contracting, the food industry must invest in training, especially in respect to their optimistic hiring plans for the next 12 months," said Gregg M. Steinberg, president of the I.P.A., a provider of management consulting services to small and medium-size businesses in North America.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, July 24, 2007, starting on Page 26. Click here to search that archive.

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