Food trucks have consistently been one of the most popular trends in food. Countless people took a loan to buy a shiny new vehicle, or bought used food trucks for sale at a cheaper price start their new food business. Today, food trucks are becoming increasingly popular and with industry trends forecasting growth.
Well over 4,000 food trucks are rolling through our country these days, with annual sales of more than $1.2 billion. According to estimates from the market research specialist IBISWorld, food-truck revenues skyrocketed over the past five years, reaching an amazing annual rate of 7.9 percent. Consumers’ attention towards them definitely doesn’t seem to wane.
Notwithstanding, the industry has matured a lot and it’s very interesting to see where this movement could be headed in 2018 and beyond. Here are a couple trends for this ever-growing business sector, according to the experts.
1. The Power Of Branding
Branded promotions are the real deal. When a new product is launched, most big companies boost the excitement factor by bringing along food trucks to community events. For example, when the New York–based company AME Network had an event with its media partners, it called the local phenomenon Katz’s Delicatessen together with The New York Food Truck Association to organize food trucks for the occasion.
Food does not need to be sold exclusively from the truck. Once a food truck brand is established, many operators often dish their menus at food fests, festivals, markets, and pop-up events. People like the idea that this brand is associated with a food truck and buy it even when the vehicle is not present.
2. Upselling the Novelty
Unconventional menu items are becoming more and more mainstream. The trucks at the Seventh Street Truck Park in St. Paul, Minnesota will sell a lot of unusual and curious things such as homemade ice cream sandwiches made with freshly-made doughnuts or pizza topped with meats coming from strange animals including wild boars, snakes, and alligators.
Similarly, as eating healthy is a growing trend, many food trucks adapted and started selling leafy green salads, fruit and healthier options. The idea that a food truck only sells juicy junk food such as giant burritos, foot-long hot dogs or super-sized sandwiches is becoming obsolete. Many clients do not necessarily prefer that the cooking is done on the spot if this forces them to wait a lot of time. Rather than selling pre-packaged products, however, many vendors found a solution by just “assembling” pre-cooked ingredients that are mostly kept hot on the truck.
Drinks, on the other hand, are the new “thing” thanks to their high profit margins. Specialty ice cream drinks, top-quality teas, and homemade fruit juices sell for premium prices, and a lot of consumers buy them even if their prices are as high as $5 or even $10.
3. The Guild of Food Truck Owners
Food trucks are becoming part of something bigger. Operators often band together in lots outside of city limits to avoid paying the highest parking and estate renting fees. People love the idea of going outside the city, and the owners have no issues such as disturbing public peace or fighting for the best parking spot in the street.
New creative food truck-eateries are popping up, such as in St. Paul, Minnesota, where several trucks park inside a former warehouse, along with carnival games, bars and live music to create a unique experience indoors. In Dallas, the Texas Truck Yard features a covered bar and in Durham, North Carolina, a County Fair with a bar and spots for a rotating series of food trucks has opened.
4. Testing New Concepts
Trucks are often used to test new products. Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden and many other major players in the food industry started using them as test kitchens without putting their logos or names on the trucks to check customers’ reactions. This way, if a product doesn’t work, they won’t risk their reputation.
In the same light, big brands are hiring custom truck builders to bring the artistic elements of their restaurants to the company food trucks. Since novelty goes a long way in this industry, many brands do their best to make ordering at their food truck an experience that sticks out in their customer’s mind.
Food trucks can be used to find prime restaurant locations as well. In 2016, the first New Bohemia truck rolled into St. Paul and found a specific area where the sales were stronger than anywhere else. The truck was used as a “probe” that scouted the best place where a brick-and-mortar restaurant could be set up. Still today, that restaurant in St. Paul is one of the chain’s most profitable stores.
The food truck industry is changing the way that many people think of casual dining. Some people will adapt and some won’t. What’s more interesting though, is that consumers will enjoy a new and more modern food truck experience in the years to come.