While there are positive signs that economies around the world are improving, the global foodservice business remained weak in the third quarter of 2009, according to market research company The NPD Group.
 
According to NPD's CREST, which tracks commercial foodservice usage in France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States, Canada, and China, restaurant traffic counts declined in the third quarter across Europe, with the steepest declines in the United Kingdom (down 2.7 percent) and Spain (down 4.1 percent) compared to the third quarter of 2008. Japan (down 0.6 percent) and the United States (down 4.3 percent) also experienced steep declines in traffic during the third quarter. Canada had the only increase (3.3 percent) in foodservice visits, but posted a flat average guest check compared to the third quarter of 2008.
 
Consumer spending declined in nearly every country during the quarter, except in Canada.
 
"The global foodservice business in the third quarter of this year shows how far the global consumer economy has to come before it can again be described as healthy," said Bob O'Brien, senior vice president of global foodservice at NPD. "While many of the countries we track had relatively good quarters across their whole economies, the news for the foodservice market is largely disappointing, although there is growth in some segments or some dayparts in every market except the United States."
 
Visits to quick-service foodservice outlets grew or held to last year's level in six out of the eight countries NPD tracks. Retail foodservice, such as convenience stores, experienced a relatively healthy third quarter in terms of traffic compared to the same quarter in 2008. High unemployment across the globe was sharply reflected in traffic declines at non-commercial foodservice segments, such as workplace cafeterias. The United States and Spain were the only countries to show traffic declines across all commercial and non-commercial foodservice segments. Canada showed traffic increases at all foodservice segments except non-commercial.
 
NPD began tracking foodservice in China in January 2009 and will have a year-to-year comparison beginning in the first quarter of 2010. A comparison by quarter in the country shows a 2 percent increase in foodservice visits from the second quarter compared to the third quarter of 2009 from a low-point in the first quarter. Foodservice vendors and retail stores were the channels that boosted traffic from quarter to quarter in China.

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