Foodservice Equipment Reports

Good And Worldwide

I write this from Hamburg, Germany, where I am attending Internorga, the big international German foodservice show. No hype: They expect 100,000 visitors. We're here because Foodservice Equipment Reports and are international, too, of course. We send our print version of the annual Worldwide Buyers Guide around the world. And, of course, anyone with a device and an Internet connection can access the online buyers guide. That's why it's called "Worldwide." That, and also because we try to list any company that makes any equipment and supplies product anywhere in the world.

One reason we come to Hamburg is to attend the Foodservice Forum, a big, day-long seminar put together by the Hamburg Messe, the group that runs the show, and our friend, Gretel Weiss, chief editor at food service and FoodService Europe & Middle East. Frau Weiss always gives an overview of what's happening in European foodservice. And the program always has great speakers. This time the keynoter was Alexander Schramm, the head guy at McDonald's Germany, who gave a presentation called "Innovation Is No Option."

According to Weiss and research she cited from her company and from NPD, German (and European) foodservice had a tough year in 2009. But it wasn't as tough as the foodservice market experienced in the United States. NPD numbers show traffic declined more in the U.S. market than nearly anywhere else the group does consumer panels. The only countries that saw numbers like those in the United States were other countries battered by housing bubbles, such as Spain and those in the United Kingdom.

McDonald's, Yum!, Subway, the big hotel groups, the big contract-management companies and others have spent billions of dollars for decades, partly in anticipation of a time such as this. Not that any of them wanted foodservice to go through the worst downturn in our lifetimes in the United States. After all, the U.S. market is still 40% of worldwide foodservice. But they all hedged their bets, and the hedging has paid off. The numbers they have reported since things started to slide in late '07 have confirmed the wisdom of their global expansion. McDonald's just reported January numbers, and once again, things were slow in the United States but great everywhere else. Yum!, which was reporting amazing same-store-sales and overall growth rates in China and other global spots, has seen the growth curve in China slow. But that market now accounts for 40% of Yum!'s profit. Subway is growing like topsy in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Aramark, Compass and Sodexho are all benefitting from global postures

The Gill Ashton Foodservice Media Group has also benefited. We've held up a little better than some foodservice media because our clients and readers know we're not tied to just one market. Which is why I'll be on a plane to the Hotelex show in Shanghai in a couple weeks. As the Germans say: Tschuss!


Robin Ashton

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