Foodservice Equipment Reports

MAFSI Barometer Up 4.8% 4Q/’13; Reps Forecast A Strong 2014

In spite of an early winter in some parts of the country, sales of equipment and supplies by manufacturers’ reps increased 4.8% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the latest MAFSI Business Barometer. The quarterly survey is maintained by the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry. And while the reps expect a weaker first quarter because of the winter, with sales forecast to grow only 3.1%, they predict sales for the year will increase 4.9%, the strongest forecast since MAFSI began the Barometer in 2002.

The fourth-quarter Barometer was buoyed by 5% gains in sales of equipment and tabletop items. Sales of durable supplies and furnishing rose 3.4% each. There was quite a bit of regional disparity in the report. Sales in Canada and the Midwest, which experienced inclement winter weather beginning in November, saw sales increase only 2.9% and 3.8% respectively. E&S sales in the Northeast rose 4.4%, while the South saw a 5.8% gain and sales in the West were up a robust 6.9%.

The reps also reported strong gains in quotation and consultant activity during the quarter, which bodes well for the year ahead. The percentage of reps saying they are quoting more rose to 54% from 42% in the third quarter; greater consultant activity was reported by 50% of those surveyed, up from 43% the prior quarter.

For 2013 as a whole, the four-quarter average gain in the Barometer was 4.45%, stronger than some expected but a bit below the reps’ 2013 forecast of 4.7% growth. The average gain is very much in line with the increases reported by the eight publicly reporting E&S companies FER tracks. For all of 2013, their combined sales rose 4.2%, a number that was dragged down by negative years from the three reporting supplies companies. In the Barometer, the four-quarter average increase for equipment was 4.6%, supplies average gain was 4.3%, tabletop rose 4.2% while average furnishings sales rose 2.55%.

The fourth-quarter Barometer numbers were delayed as MAFSI moved its data collection to a new provider. The Barometer for the first quarter 2014 is scheduled for an early May release. The complete Barometer report is available at mafsi.org.

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