Reps Report Downturn in Consulting and Quoting Work

Foodservice equipment and supplies sales grew at a slower pace in the second quarter of 2023, with one product category now seeing a decline.

Sales were up only 4.1 percent for the quarter, falling short of the 4.5 percent previously forecasted by the MAFSI (Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry) Business Barometer, an economic indicator for the $15 billion foodservice equipment industry. The results represented the eighth consecutive quarter of slowing growth, from a peak of 19.1 percent two years ago. The trend is expected to continue, with a projected growth of 3.5 percent in Q3 2023.

By region, sales grew 6.4 percent in the South, 5 percent in the Midwest, 4.5 percent in the West, 2.8 percent in Canada and only 0.7 percent in the Northeast. Refrigerators/ice machines led all equipment categories with 6.1 percent growth, followed by storage/handling equipment (5.4 percent), serving/holding (4.7 percent), food preparation (3.2 percent), primary cooking equipment (3.1 percent), and ventilation (2.6 percent). The washing and waste handling category was the only one to see a decline (-1.5 percent).

Reps who responded to the report also noted a slowing down of consultant and quoting activity. Twenty-five percent reported less consulting work in Q2 versus 9 percent who same the same last quarter. Meanwhile, 35 percent reported less quoting, an increase from 22 percent in Q1.

MAFSI said it appears that the overall foodservice sales curve for the past four years is following a four-legged W formation, with the industry currently in the third leg of reduced demand, ample supply and higher prices. “Overall business appears to be headed towards a period of ‘fits and starts.’ We are in a period of market volatility not seen in the nearly 25-year history of the MBB,” the association said.