By Chris Elliott, Senior Economist (Jun. 13/16) Canada’s foodservice industry started the year on a strong note as commercial foodservice sales rose by 5.4% in the first quarter of 2016, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. This is on the heels of a 4.3% increase in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Total foodservice sales increased by 4.8% in January, then by a robust 7.7% in February, thanks in part to an extra ‘leap’ day that month. Sales moderated to 3.9% growth in March. Mild winter weather and healthy consumer demand in British Columbia, the Maritimes and Ontario boosted spending in Q1.

Quick-service restaurants had the highest growth in the first quarter as sales advanced by 7.7%. All provinces reported higher sales on a year-over-year basis.

Sales at full-service restaurants grew by a respectable 4.0% in the first quarter. While most provinces reported healthy gains, the decline in commodity prices led to lower spending in Alberta (-5.1%) and Saskatchewan (-2.0%). A decline in independent establishments restrained full-service restaurant sales in Quebec to a tepid 1.4% growth.

The impact of falling commodity prices led to a cutback in contract catering at remote camps in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland. This held total caterer revenues to a modest 1.6% increase.

Drinking places rebounded with a solid 3.6% increase in sales. Even though sales improved in Q1 2016, it was not enough to offset the 6.3% decline in Q1 2015.

For the full list of results, divided by province and by segment, click here to download the latest copy of the Monthly Fast Facts/InfoStats.

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