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Global Foodservice Markets Experience Mixed First Quarter Results

Despite improving economic conditions in some regions, growth in the foodservice industry remains slow, NPD reports.

Great Britain led the developed markets in foodservice traffic gains and the emerging Russian foodservice market continued to increase consumer visits in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period a year ago, reports The NPD Group. Improved consumer confidence and mild weather helped Germany's foodservice sector, which has had several quarters of traffic declines, gain visits in the quarter, according to NPD's global foodservice market research.

An improved economic environment in the early months of the year encouraged a 2 percent traffic increase in Great Britain, according to the NPD Group. Visits to Russian foodservice outlets grew by 6 percent as the newness of this marketplace continues to capture consumers' attention. Australia and China saw a modest gain of 1 percent in traffic. Harsh weather kept foodservice customers away in Canada and the U.S., and Spain and Italy continued with steep visit declines in the first quarter as each of these countries struggle with economic challenges.

"In the year's first quarter, Germany's foodservice market benefited from an improving economy, increased income levels, moderate inflation, and strengthened purchasing power amongst German consumers," said Jochen Pinsker, senior vice president, foodservice Europe, at NPD. "A look at the individual foodservice segments showed the strongest growth at on-site foodservice areas, like workplace and educational catering, which benefited from calendar effects, such as Easter and bank holidays."

Foodservice chains, which have stayed buoyant since before the global economic crisis, were weak in a number of markets. Major chain traffic was flat in Canada, Japan, and the U.S. in the first quarter period compared to a year ago, and down in Spain and Italy. In every market tracked by NPD, chains are larger than they were in 2007, and independents are smaller than they were in 2007.