Global food service industry had weak year in 2008

by Staff
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CHICAGO — The last half of 2008 was especially weak for global food service traffic, according to NPD Group, a market research firm. The weak six months was largely the result of a sharp drop in demand during the fourth quarter.

"While deals and promotions helped drive the small traffic growth at U.S. restaurants in 2008, such value-oriented practices are largely unfamiliar in other countries," said Bob O’Brien, senior vice-president of global food service at NPD. "Instead, other countries are much more aggressive with product variety as an enticement to visit."

Restaurant traffic declined in Japan and across Europe with the United States holding fairly steady and ending the year up slightly from the previous year. Canada saw both traffic and average eater check grow in 2008.

"The global food service market in 2008 mirrored the economic downturn throughout most parts of the world, but there were positive areas, too," Mr. O’Brien said. "Food service operators and manufacturers need to get organized around the positive areas and have a solid understanding of what will drive growth as we emerge from today’s weakness."

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