Supply chain disruption, recruitment difficulties, input costs and Brexit have all contributed to optimism levels among Irish food and agribusiness SMEs dropping to a five-year low, according to a new report.

The fifth Food and Agribusiness Report published by Ifac, the farm and agribusiness professional services firm, was based on research conducted by Amárach Research.

It found optimism levels among the firms surveyed were down 23% from a high of 77% last year, and 84% of firms reported an increase in costs this year.

The report also states 88% of SMEs are taking climate action with the management of waste products, sustainable packaging and energy saving initiatives top of the list.

Ominously for consumers, 65% of respondents are planning price increases even as three quarters of businesses examine ways to cut costs. 63% of respondents cited the rising costs of raw materials as the biggest threat to growth.

Despite the challenges, more than four-fifths of companies surveyed reported they maintained or increased turnover in the last 12 months

Research for the report titled "The Big SME Squeeze" was conducted in June and July this year and includes the views of some of those that run leading agtech and food companies.

It is the only report focused exclusively on Irish food and agribusiness SMEs, according to Ifac.