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The food industry is currently beset with distribution problems as a result of driver shortages​ and a skills crisis caused by several factors, not just the ‘pingdemic’​. Food Manufacture​ is holding a crucial free one-hour webinar addressing some of the issues on 9 September at 3pm​.

The Recovery Tracker recorded an output figure of 45.6 in July compared with 60.5 in June. A reading above 50 signals output is rising, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction. 

Healthcare businesses’ output also recorded an overall fall in activity – the sector’s first drop in six months – as spending on pandemic-related healthcare continued to ease. 

Of the 12 sectors reporting growth, just four posted a faster month-on-month rate of expansion, down from five in June and 11 in May.

Technology equipment manufacturers and software services boom

Technology equipment manufacturers (76.1 in July against 66.6 in June), which includes producers of specialist parts in smart devices, motor vehicles, computers and industrial machinery, posted the fastest overall rate of growth and the steepest month-on-month rise. Lloyds claimed they had been boosted by strong domestic and overseas demand for critical components. 

Technology demand also supported the UK software services sector (62.7 versus 60.7 in June), which recorded its sharpest rate of expansion in nearly seven years. 

Meanwhile, the tourism and recreation sector saw its growth rate ease, falling to 55.3 from 63.1 in June, a level which was the strongest output growth recorded since January 2012. Businesses pointed to a levelling-off in forward bookings for UK holidays, and cited restricted capacity caused by staff shortages – a key challenge also reported by firms in transportation (51.5 compared with 51.8 in June), particularly among hauliers.

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