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Global Foodservice Traffic Sluggish in Last Quarter of 2012 But Spending Increases, Reports NPD

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Chicago, March 12, 2013 — Sluggish and weak were terms used throughout 2012 to describe the state of the foodservice industry across the globe and the last quarter proved these fitting descriptors, but on the brighter side increases in average check brought spending up in many countries, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company.  Outside of China, most countries experienced traffic declines and no country posted an increase in visits greater than one percent, reports NPD’s CREST®, which continually tracks commercial foodservice usage in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States. 

Foodservice visits in Australia were up one percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 while Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States finished the year with stable traffic counts. France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Spain reported traffic declines in the quarter with Spain experiencing the steepest declines at 3 percent.  Traffic increased by eight percent in China, which reported on third quarter 2012 results.   Foodservice spending increased in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, United Kingdom, and United States.

“The foodservice industry in France continues to be affected by consumers snacking less. Snacking was down by six percent in the last quarter compared to the same quarter in 2011,” says Christine Tartanson, director, NPD France Foodservice. “Quick service, full service, and cafés are experiencing weaker traffic at dinner and morning/afternoon drink occasions as consumers trade down or eat at home more. Only the foodservice lunch business at quick service and full service restaurants managed to resist declines in the quarter.”

Lunch is generally the largest day part in all the countries tracked by NPD’s CREST® foodservice market research. Lunch foodservice visits were flat in many of the countries with overall traffic declines, and China and Spain saw visit growth at the lunch day part.

“Without growth at lunch, it will be hard for any country’s foodservice market to be seen as on the path to health,” says Bob O’Brien, global senior vice president foodservice. “The relative health at lunch this quarter, even in the weak countries is a glimmer of hope for positive momentum in the coming quarters.”

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