CHICAGO – Australia, Canada and China were the only three countries to post foodservice traffic growth in the first quarter of 2013, while other countries experienced weak traffic growth, according to The NPD Group, a global information company.

“Australians entered the New Year with an optimistic attitude that was reflected in their increased visits to and spending at foodservice outlets,” said Ciara Clancy, director, NPD foodservice, Australia. “Despite this good news, concerns around job security still remains with ongoing labor market weaknesses, all of which may raise consumer concern and deflate optimism, resulting in less use of foodservice in subsequent quarters.”

Among countries reporting gains, China reported the weakest traffic and check growth since CREST China began tracking the country’s foodservice industry in 2010. There were foodservice spending gains in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, US, and declines in France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, according to NPD Group.

The weakness in restaurant and other foodservice traffic experienced in Continental Europe during the last quarter of 2012 spilled over into the first quarter of 2013 but was offset by soft traffic in North America and Japan, according to NPD’s CREST which tracks global foodservice trends.

“Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, recently announced that Europe’s recession was the longest since the creation of the single currency in 1999, and the foodservice sector has certainly felt the effects of it,” said Bob O’Brien, global senior vice president foodservice.