Over the past 7 to 10 years the food truck industry has grown from strength to strength to a point where it’s now considered to be one of the top-performing areas in the broader foodservice sector. At the beginning of the last recession in 2008, dozens of new vendors spotted a change in consumer tastes and trends, favouring unique, authentic cuisine at a lower price point. 

Some major cities such as LA, Portland and Austin were quick to react and sought to stand out from the crowd by creating laws and areas catering solely for mobile food trucks. Although the broader food-services sector suffered a drop in revenue and custom from 2008 to 2009 due to a pullback on overall consumer spending, it proved to be the catalyst for the start of a food truck industry boom. Consumers sought to get a better ‘bang for their buck’ from their now much depleted disposable income and comforted themselves with such purchases as affordable, authentic gourmet food.

According to a recent study in IBIS World, the food truck industry now employs over 28,000 in the United States and is expected to have an annual industry revenue of over $1 Billion by the end of 2019 

Despite these impressive figures, vendors in certain areas claim to have been heavily restricted by new city regulations, low profit margins and an increasing level of competition. New laws governing food trucks differ from city to city, mostly centred around what hours food trucks can and can't operate within and the minimum distance a food truck can operate from the nearest traditional, bricks-and-mortar restaurant. Naturally, the food truck industry is in direct competition with the broader food-services sector and some traditional restaurants that pay taxes have been lobbying against the industry for some years now. Its also assessed that the industry, in certain areas at least, has begun to reach a saturation point, meaning some traders are seeing profit margins shrinking.  Due to the very nature of the industry and its relatively low entry point in relation to the cost of starting up a business means this area of the foodservice sector will continue to experience a high volume of competition unless they can set themselves apart from the crowd. One demonstrable way is through effective branding and custom design of food trucks and catering trailers.  

Food Truck Industry Growth

Over the next few years, the industry is expected to face fresh challenges most crucially in the form of increased regulatory hurdles. In many larger cities, parking laws and other city directives are still evolving and playing catch up to the industry’s boom. In order to see continued success in this areas, Industry associations will need to work closely with restauranteurs and city officials to help resolve these issues if food trucks are to continue playing a large role in the country’s food-services sector. Growth in household incomes and a change of consumer preferences towards healthier choices and higher-end cuisine are expected to continue which will help aid the Food Truck industry growth over the next 5 years. 

Published by Peter Garlow