TRUCKEE, CALIF. — While the U.S. economy is slowing down and may actually decline in early 2020, snack manufacturers should take advantage of low interest rates and readily available lending to invest in their companies. Doing so will allow them to prepare for the next cycle as the economy expands from the second half of 2020 through 2022, said Brian Beaulieu, chief executive officer and chief economist at ITR Economics.

“We’re going through a little slowdown in the economy,” Mr. Beaulieu told attendees at SNAC International’s Executive Leadership Forum, which was held Oct. 6-8 near Lake Tahoe, Calif. “It’s not the end of the world. My biggest concern is, are you ready for the rising trend that is going to follow?”

Speaking about “Managing in an Uncertain Economy,” Mr. Beaulieu noted that key leading indicators and the firm’s proprietary research show the U.S. and global economy ramping up in the second half of 2020.

“In 2021, you are going to be extremely busy, and you are going to be busy into 2022,” he said.

“I don’t know if you have enough people to make that happen,” he added. “I don’t know if you have enough working capital to make that happen. I don’t think you have enough energy in your bodies to make this happen. You are going to need all of these things.”

In recent years, the snack industry has outperformed other food industries, but it isn’t immune to broader economic cycles.

“People come to me and ask, are we in a recession? That’s the wrong question,” Mr. Beaulieu said. “What you should be planning for is the next cycle, and the next cycle is going to have a nice rise to it.”

But the economic growth isn’t going to increase in a straight line. ITR Economics’ research predicted that the economy may decline in 2023.

“That will be the worst business cycle experience that you will have to go through since the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009,” he said. “It is not going to be pleasant.”

Anticipating such an event, however, will allow snack manufacturers to come up with a business strategy to protect their profits and develop tactics to prevent participating in the decline.

“If you see it first, you can be proactive about it,” Mr. Beaulieu said.

Overall, he anticipated the U.S. economy is fundamentally well-poised for growth for the next decade, despite trade wars and elections.

“This is a good, solid economy that we have and we’re going to enjoy a good run in the 2020s,” Mr. Beaulieu predicted. “If you hear nothing else from me, hear that. This is a good time to be in business.”