|Food Truck Fest in Troy, NY (Photo: Townsquare Media)|
Here at LOA we are paying close attention to food trends as this category continues to grow its share of overall consumer spending. Consumer dining habits are rapidly shifting as more and more spending is happening on meals outside the home than on buying groceries and eating in, according to the most recent expenditure data (Bureau of Economic Analysis, Q1 2016). In recent months, we’ve covered the new categorization of food services, and delved deeper into food hubs and food halls, but now it’s time to take a closer look at food trucks.
|NYC Food Truck (Photo: Sacha Fernandez)|
Like full service restaurants and other eating places, food trucks can primarily be found in densely populated cities and regions. According to a Zagat survey from 2012, the most concentrated cities include New York (11.1% of industry establishments), Boston, Washington, DC, Miami, Houston, Austin, TX, Cleveland, Chicago, Portland, OR, and Los Angeles. The West and Mid-Atlantic are the most important regions for this industry, accounting for an estimated 25.2% and 23.3% of food trucks in 2016, respectively. As its popularity grows in Florida, the Southeast is also anticipated to account for a greater substantial share of food truck establishments.
|Food Trucks on parking lot in San Francisco, CA (Photo: Quinn Dombrowski)|
And meals are not as cheap anymore because the trendy, young professional seeking new and gourmet food has now become a major customer segment in densely populated cities. These changes are also reflected in successful sales locations for food trucks. In 2015, only 15% of food truck sales were made at industrial/ construction work sites versus 18% at venues and events, according to Mobile-Cuisine.Com.
|Food trucks outside restaurant in Cleveland, OH (Photo:E Little)|
In Chicago, IL, for example, food trucks are being held back by regulations that prohibit them from setting up shop within 200 feet of a bricks and mortar restaurant or from parking in any one location for more than two hours. Bricks and mortar restaurants are often, if not always, located near the retail core of downtowns and near entertainment and leisure destinations where a considerable amount of foot traffic is already established. By disallowing food trucks from setting up in those areas, they may be pushed to peripheries of downtowns or less attractive streets where there isn’t a sufficient threshold of customers to break even. Also, in Chicago, where parking ratios are lower, food trucks would be hard pressed to find desirable parking spots quickly – resulting in lost critical sales hours. These restrictions and more have stifled the industry’s growth in Chicago at a 1:100 ratio of food truck to restaurants.
|Food truck on Leather Lane, London UK (Photo: duncan c)|
|Food Truck Thursday in Washington DC (Photo: Ted Eytan)|
BEST PRACTICE: Washington DC – Mobile Roadway Vending Zones
|Food truck on private lot in Brooklyn NY (Photo: Jason Lam)|
BEST PRACTICE: Portland, Oregon – Vacant Lots for food truck clusters