The Rise and Rise of the Mobile Food Vendor
While food trucks have seen a huge growth in popularity in recent years, the traditional food truck has long been a mainstay of urban areas whereever hungry people gather, primarily for breakfast and lunch (and not to mention the festival food vendors that we all expect to see at the fair). Typically these food trucks carried sandwiches, burgers and dogs, tacos, kebobs, and pre-made or packaged items such as chips, drinks, candy bars, etc. Most lunch trucks specialize in inexpensive convenience items that are easy for the lunch crowd to grab and go.
The evolution of the food truck has seen an expansion of food items carried to include more specialized and ethnic cuisine such as Korean barbeque, Indian street fare, vegan and vegetarian offerings, pancakes and crepes and many new gourment creations. While the classic hotdog and hamburger are still popular, we’re seeing more innovative twists that include locally sourced meats, organic condiments and specialty desserts.
A few of the target consumers for this new breed of gourmet food trucks are food aficionados eager to find and share new culinary experiences; caterers, who seek consistent providers; and urban professionals, who get tired of the same old food options from fast food chains and local eateries. Additioanlly we’re seeing a growth in dessert-themed food trucks such as cupcake trucks, handmade ice-cream and cookie trucks. The opportunities for a mobile food vendor who can create the right concept and fill the local need have never been better. There are plenty of customers in every community who would love to indulge in a delicious treat after lunch, dinner, or during an afternoon lull, but find it challenging to locate freshly made items in their neighborhood. With very few major national competitors operating in the United States, the sales opportunities for local operations are virtually limitless. Even with our recent economic troubles, people are still spending money on small indulgences, especially locally made items prepared on the spot or in small quantities.
Premium ingredients, internationally influenced flavors and the slow food movement are creating a new breed of food trucks. Growth areas in mobile food trucks include:
Healthy Whole Foods
- heart-healthy (Trans fats are out)
- allergen-free (gluten-free, vegan)
- fair trade (chocolate)
- international and the layering of exotic flavors
- green (locally produced)
- quick and convenient (mobile vending)
- indulgent: premium gourmet
One of the strongest trends in the specialty food industry as a whole – not just food trucks – is an increased awareness of our health, our planet and our society. This trend has emerged from the green movement, the slow food movement, and the resurgence of health awareness. Increasingly, people relate the food–-even the desserts–-that they consume to their environmental commitment and their desire to be good citizens of the world. Supporting local farms and local businesses supports this philosophy. For others, buying from health food vendors that create from scratch, in small batches and with premium ingredients, means better taste and better health – not things usually associated with ‘traditional’ food trucks!
There are many things that must be considered when contemplating becoming a mobile food vendor.
Gourmet and artisanal food trucks often enjoy a perception of being healthy and green. “Organic,” “fair-trade,” “locally sourced” and “sustainable” remain important buzzwords to consumers. While it is important to understand the perceptions in your own community before committing to any concept, don’t hesitate to explore different ideas in initial market testing. There are many things that must be considered when contemplating starting a food truck business. Everything from what items you will sell to where you will be located to how you will price your items are all important details you need to begin working out before you open your business.