The latest outlook report from the National Restaurant Association has encouraging news for fresh produce foodservice suppliers.

The Restaurant Performance Index for November hit its highest level in five months, reaching 100.6, which is a 0.6% increase from October. November also marked the second time in three months that the index topped 100, signifying expansion in key industry indicators, according to a news release from the Washington D.C.-based NRA.

The index measures the health of the restaurant industry in relation to a steady-state level of 100. Index values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion.

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s research and knowledge group, said in the release that restaurant operators reported their strongest net positive same-store sales results in more than four years in November. Customer traffic levels also grew in November.

Other encouraging news included 50% of restaurant operators reporting same-store sales gains between November 2010 and November 2011, while just 28% reported a same-store sales decline. This marked the strongest net positive sales performance since August 2007, when 54 percent of operators reported a sales gain and 29 percent reported lower sales, the NRA reported.

Restaurant operators also reported stronger customer traffic levels in November. Forty-one percent reported higher customer traffic levels between November 2010 and November 2011. In October, 37% reported higher customer traffic.

Looking ahead, 41% of the restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months, compared to the same period in the previous year, up from 35 percent who reported similarly in October.