With no assist from the global economy, except for Germany, there was a glimmer of recovery for the global foodservice markets in the fourth quarter of last year, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company.

Nearly all countries reported modest growth in foodservice consumer spending and traffic in the fourth quarter. 

According to NPD’s CREST, which tracks commercial foodservice usage in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States, China led the world with a 15 percent gain in foodservice visits and a 22 percent increase in spending over same quarter last year.

Canada posted the fastest growth rate among developed markets with a 3 percent increase in visits, while Germany, with the most robust economy, grew slightly less than Canada, due to a boost in eater check.

“Economic conditions in Canada didn’t do much to strengthen the environment for foodservice during the fall period, but as is often the case, foodservice begins to improve prior to any economic recovery,” says Robert Carter, executive director, Canada foodservice.

“Canada’s foodservice industry posted a strong fourth quarter  performance in 2011 with a 4 percent growth in spending and a 3 percent increase in visits. Canadians now visits restaurants over 6.6 billion times a year and spending has reached an all-time high of $47.6 billion.”

According to NPD, chains continue to grow outside of Spain and Italy, while the health of independents was broader than in the third quarter of last year.

The global recovery continues to be led by the quick-service segment, with the quick-service burger category being the only category that grew in every country around the world. The lunch and dinner dayparts, both a bit more broadly positive than in prior quarters, are helping to lift traffic in most of the markets. 

“The broad-based increases in traffic counts represent a continuation of the trends we’ve seen over the past quarters,” says Bob O’Brien, senior vice president of global foodservice at NPD. “More foodservice visits on top of check boosts are driving the growth in consumer spending, which gives us some hope that a global recovery is underway.”

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