Foodservice Equipment Reports

Except For China, Foodservice Traffic In Many Countries Remains Soft, Reports NPD

Foodservice traffic during the third quarter 2011 rose in only four of the 10 major country markets tracked by The NPD Group, according to a Jan. 4 report from the Port Washington, N.Y., consumer research firm. Visit activity continues to be affected by depressed consumer confidence, high unemployment and other economic uncertainties in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. Traffic rose in Canada, France and, surprisingly, given its Euro-debt problems, Italy. Foodservice visits in China continued to explode, rising nearly 20% in the third quarter, versus the same quarter in’10. As we reported in the last issue of FER Fortnightly in late December, traffic in the U.S. fell slightly, off 0.6% during the quarter.

Spain and Japan experienced the sharpest declines, as Spain continued to struggle with unemployment exceeding 20% and Japan was still dealing with effects of the its earthquake and tsunami, earlier in the year. Traffic in Spain fell 4.6%; Japan’s visits were off 3.3%.

Traffic rose 2.7% in Canada in the third quarter, 1.7% in France and 1.3% in Italy.  Check averages were up slightly in most markets--led by 3% increases in Germany and Australia, though both saw traffic declines and 1.8% in the U.S.

“There is still a mixed bag of health and weakness across the global foodservice industry,” said Bob O’Brien, senior v.p.-global foodservice at NPD. “While a few of the countries we track posted traffic gains, the news for the third quarter…remains disappointing.” O’Brien will be the opening keynote speaker at FER’s Multiunit Foodservice Equipment Symposium Jan. 29 in Austin, Texas. (See related article in this issue.)

Christina Ma, the firm’s director-China foodservice, even had some cautions about the booming Chinese market. “Although foodservice traffic in China experienced double-digit growth over the last year, the country’s consumer confidence is not as strong as last year,” she said. She noted consumers have become more careful about foodservice spending and are increasingly opting for lower-priced foodservice options such as bakery/coffee shops and retail.