Global foodservice traffic in the first quarter of 2012 reflected each geography's economy, according to market research comany The NPD Group. For example, NPD's foodservice market research finds that restaurant and foodservice visits increased in the first quarter of the year for more stable economies such as Canada and China, and Japan's traffic continued to rebound in the aftermath of Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
Conversely, foodservice visits declined in Australia and Europe where there is economic uncertainty.
The Canadian foodservice market continues to lead the developed markets with visits up 4 percent in the quarter versus same quarter year ago, according to NPD's CREST, which tracks commercial foodservice usage in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
Chinese consumers continued to increase their use of commercial foodservice although controlled their spending by selecting combo meals and other deals. Japan, which posted several solid quarters before the earthquake and tsunami, is returning to form with its second consecutive quarter of traffic growth.
France was the only European country experiencing traffic gains in the first quarter. Foodservice traffic in Germany was flat in the quarter, following gains in the preceding quarter, and traffic declined in Italy, Spain and the U.K.
The independent (non-chain) foodservice segment improved in several countries in the first quarter after several years of declines. Lunch posted broad growth across the world and breakfast, which is a big market driver only in China and Italy, is up or flat in most markets.
Dinner, which looked very strong in the last quarter of 2011, fell slightly in the first quarter of this year.
"The first quarter of the year brought a mix of good and bad news for the global foodservice industry," says Bob O'Brien, senior vice president of global foodservice at NPD. "While a recovery of the global foodservice industry seemed possible at the end of 2011, lack of consumer confidence and economic uncertainty entering into the new year may have put the recovery on hold for the time being."
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