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World Foodservice Sees Demand Sag

World foodservice demand, NPD
Source: The NPD Group/CREST, quarter ending June 2011

CHICAGO — As goes consumer confidence so goes the global foodservice industry. When consumer confidence sagged in the second quarter this year so did foodservice traffic in most countries around the world, according to The NPD Group, a market researcher.

Foodservice industry traffic around the globe shows traffic down or flat in most countries with the exception of China. NPD surveys that tracks consumer use of restaurants found that foodservice visits declined in Australia (-1 percent), Canada (-1 percent),  Japan (-3  percent),  and Spain (-6 percent) and traffic remained flat in  Germany, United Kingdom,  and the United States. China showed the strongest visit gains with a +15 percent increase. Countries also showing traffic growth, although slight, were France (+1 percent) and Italy (+1 percent).  Consumer spending at foodservice was flat in Japan and Spain but increased in the remainder of the countries tracked by NPD.

"With so much uncertainty surrounding the local and global economy, consumer confidence remains low and hence it is difficult to forecast any real improvement in foodservice traffic," says Guy Fielding, managing director of NPD's UK foodservice. "In addition, the recent riots in the UK will negatively impact the third quarter foodservice figures as consumers refused to venture into city and town centers due to the unrest." 

While full service foodservice concepts posted declines in most countries, quick service restaurants (QSR) increased some growth in every country, including Japan that continues to recover from last March's Great East Japan Earthquake.  At work (OnSite) foodservice traffic is generally down due in most part to high unemployment. Only in France where the economy is relatively stable is there growth in OnSite. 

"The foodservice industry is truly a bellwether of the economy and, regardless of country, the consumers' state of mind," says Bob O'Brien, global senior vice president, foodservice at NPD. "The second quarter foodservice measures were a direct reflection of the times." 

*Note on numbers: Currencies are in U.S. dollars, converted May 23, 2011. Japan represents Tokyo and Osaka only.

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