The UK foodservice industry prioritises cybersecurity over emerging technology due to the growing threat of cyber-attacks, according to research by business technology solutions company Softcat.

Surveying over 1,600 of its customers across 18 different industries the company found that 83% of industries including the foodservice sector ranked cybersecurity its biggest 2020 technology priority.

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According to research from Hiscox 55% of UK firms experienced a cyber-attack in 2019 a rise of 15% compared to last year.

Although new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are becoming increasingly popular, the foodservice industry ranked it as its second lowest priority for tech in 2020, for the third year running.

Data compliance came second in foodservice industry priorities as the sector is taking new GDPR regulations more seriously, while wanting to improve its compliance position for personal data.

Softcat Cyber Security chief technologist Adam Louca told Verdict Foodservice: “The entire supply chain in the food industry, from farm to fork, really makes it a prime target for cyber criminals. With GDPR fines and the ICO’s tough stance on enforcement, every foodservice organisation who processes personal data should be investing in their cybersecurity defences to mitigate risk.

“In many ways, the risks from cyber threats are no different than the safety risks that food companies mitigate every day which involve evaluating threats, assessing the likelihood of occurrences, and establishing programmes for mitigation.

“As foodservice companies undergo digital transformation, the effects of a cybersecurity incident will be greater. This, combined with the perishable nature of the goods they deal with on a daily basis, means any loss of service can hit revenue generation and profits hard.

“Beyond security benefits, our foodservice customers have also reported that strengthening their cyber defences has helped them clearly differentiate themselves during the competitive evaluation process and has subsequently won them lucrative contracts, boosting revenue and expanding their client base.”