The U.S. food and beverage industry is upbeat about its performance in 2014, with most industry decision makers expecting growth in both sales and profit, according to a new report by advisory services firm WeiserMazars LLP. There is also good news on the employment front, as many industry representatives anticipate a recruitment surge over the course of this year.

The predicted growth follows years of already strong performance for the food and beverage industry. Between 2010 and 2013 average sales rose by 13 percent, while average net profits went up 17 percent. Between 2012 and 2013 labor costs and commodity prices increased by 4 percent each, while fuel and energy costs were 9 percent higher on average, the report found. Despite this increase in costs, the majority of respondents expect growth in 2014 due to an anticipated surge in sales.

When asked what would influence sales this year, 39 percent of respondents said the most powerful factor would be new customers, followed by improved sales performance, cited by 21 percent, and launching new products, which 17 percent of respondents expect to play a significant role.

The biggest gains in sales are anticipated in the area of healthy nutritious foods, with about one in three industry representatives predicting growth. Other sectors performing well will include private labeled foods, cited by 22 percent, organic foods, highlighted by 14 percent, and locally grown and produced foods, which 13 percent expect to see increasing in popularity.