Foodservice Equipment Reports

A World Of Opportunity

The past two-and-a-half weeks have reminded me of something I’ve known a very long time: Few businesses offer more people more opportunity than foodservice.

As Beth mentions in her editorial, we’ve been very busy. We attended the annual convention of the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association in late March, then headed to Shanghai for the Hotelex Show. For the second year now, we’ve teamed with the Foodservice Consultants Society Int’l./Asia-Pacific Division to help the show mount a day-long education program. Then, after a week in Shanghai, which included tours of the China factories of T&S Brass, Prince Castle and Manitowoc, we headed down to Singapore for Food & Hotel Asia. Both shows are huge and filled with equipment and supplies manufacturers from around the world.

But the common thread everywhere—in the U.S., China, Southeast Asia—was how much opportunity foodservice provides. At FEDA, I was struck once again by the rapid growth of dealers benefiting from a chain orientation and from the new technologies the Internet provides. Chains such as Dicos, Kung Fu and Jollibee are growing in Asia just like Dickie’s BBQ, Chipotle and Five Guys are growing in the U.S. (and in fact, Jollibee is growing in the U.S., as well). China accounts for something like 40% of Yum! Brands total profit and McDonald’s, Starbucks and other global chains are expanding rapidly, in spite of a slowdown in Chinese foodservice growth. It’s no different in India and Indonesia and scores of other places.

The supply chains expand to serve this growth. Nearly every U.S. manufacturer we met in Asia talked about the incredible opportunity of the growing foodservice market there. They often come initially to help serve their big U.S. chain customers locally, yes, but they are equally focused on the opportunity to develop and sell products to local operators. And they compete with a readily developing local manufacturing base, too.

I’ve been going to Asia since 1999 and I am constantly struck but how far China and other Asian markets have come in the past 15 years. There’s plenty more to come.

While we were at the FEDA meeting, someone asked why we spend time going to international shows. It’s very simple: It’s where the really big growth is. All around the world, in Asia, in the Middle East, in Eastern Europe and Russia, in Latin America and in Africa, foodservice is exploding as the middle classes grow in developing countries. And for FER, it’s a clear point of distinction. With our annual Worldwide Buyers Guide and our new FER Worldwide Report e-newsletter, it’s also become a significant source of revenue.

We’re excited to be taking advantage of the opportunity of global foodservice growth. But there also is still plenty of opportunity here in the U.S. and Canada. You just have to look for it.

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