CHICAGO ? Restaurant and foodservice visits are still down in most countries around the world, but the global foodservice industry enjoyed slight growth thanks to increased consumer spending in the quarter ending June 2010 compared to same quarter year ago, according to trend-tracker The NPD Group.

Industry’s bright spots were Canada and China where foodservice traffic increased, NPD’s foodservice market research relayed. China’s foodservice traffic increased by 13%, thanks in large part to that nation’s economic recovery and increased consumer confidence, while Canada’s improved by 2%.

Countries with the steepest traffic declines in the second quarter include Italy, Japan, and Spain, according to NPD’s CREST, which tracks commercial foodservice usage in Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom and United States. Spending increased, at least slightly, in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and China. Experiencing flat traffic, Japan was the only country with a measurable decline in the amount spent per person.

“Around the world, most of our analysts describe their economic environment and industry performance as ‘not so good, but not as bad as it was before’,” said Bob O’Brien, senior vice president of global foodservice at NPD. “This amounts to faint hope for a broader environment of robust health.”

Although Western quick-service restaurants play a small role in China, NPD finds foodservice booming in the eight major Chinese cities it tracks. The 14% increase in traffic was primarily driven by visit frequency.

“Chinese foodservice consumers cautiously increased their restaurant visits and new visitors started to dine out,” said Christina Ma, NPD manager, China foodservice. “Visits to western quick service restaurants increased significantly as consumers switched from full service to quick-service restaurants.”

The increase in consumer spending at foodservice outlets for two consecutive quarters in the UK reflected the country’s somewhat improving economy.

“Although traffic was still down for most foodservice segments except quick-service, the rate of decline in the second quarter was slower than the first quarter,” said Guy Fielding, NPD director of business development, UK foodservice. “The travel and leisure foodservice segment and full-service restaurants saw the rate of visit declines halved.”