The claims were made in the 2011 Plimsoll Industry Analysis. Researchers looked at the 972 leading companies in the fresh produce industry. Of them, 439 were seen as strong while 257 were facing severe financial problems.
Author of the study David Pattison said: "Some of the companies are just too weak to carry on. We expect to see a big rise in company failures in the new year." However, he suggested that the failure of these companies might offer opportunities to competitors.
Pattison said around 140 firms in the sector were "serial loss-makers" that had made losses for the previous two or three years. He said such companies had to refocus and concentrate on the bottom line. But he stressed that firms that were well managed would be able to thrive, even in adverse economic conditions.