Trends & Insights
The Food Truck Scene
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
“Expect the Unexpected” is an apt theme for the fleets of food trucks changing the culinary landscape in cities across the United States. The very things that made these mobile kitchens appealing for chefs – lower start-up costs than a brick-and-mortar restaurant; increased flexibility; and unsurpassed menu and culinary freedom – translate into satisfying and unique dining experiences for consumers.
According to statistics reported by Mobile Cuisine Magazine, food trucks are dishing out meals at street locations/corners approximately 55 percent of the time while 18 percent capitalize on events and other venues. Construction/industrial sites account for 15 percent of the food truck market today, and shopping malls capture the remaining 12 percent market share. Food trucks are thriving in these market segments and are expected to expand geographically over the next several years into suburban locations and smaller communities.
Small Kitchens, Big Innovations
The inherent challenges of working out of a mobile kitchen are no match for the culinary innovations that result. While food trucks’ limited menus were likely built out of necessity – as they contend with cramped kitchens and limited space for storing food – their specialized offerings are a point of differentiation. Both specialization and the nimbleness to tap shifting consumer trends serves these rolling restaurants well.
When building a menu, food truck chefs have to weigh product versatility, prep time and cost efficiency, just as their conventional restaurant counterparts do; however, their consumers also expect a little bit of uniqueness and flare with niche menus often highlighting either regional or cultural cuisine.
In the Fast Lane to Growth
Winning, In-Person & Online
Food trucks have carte blanche over their menus. Chefs often interact with consumers and receive candid feedback on new concepts, recipes and menus. Unlike fast-food and quick-service restaurants that build more permanent menus, food trucks can continuously test and tweak and publish new menus with just a quick tweet. Twitter and Facebook are vital tools, used heavily to build relationships and update patrons on a food truck’s location and changing menu.
The ability to track how locations and menus influence sales provides powerful insight, an iterative approach to doing business that will ensure food trucks remain hot dining destinations for years to come.