Survey Says: Food Trucks Here for the Long Haul

Discussion
Jul 20, 2011
George Anderson

A new study by Technomic finds that 91 percent of consumers familiar with food trucks think they are here to stay and not just a temporary fad. Of those who currently stop at trucks to pick up food, only seven percent plan to decrease visits in the coming year.

“The key for long-term success is getting the non-user to come on board,” said Kevin Higar, director for Technomic, in a press releae. “One in five individuals is not aware of or has not seen a food truck.”

Other findings from the study contained in Technomic’s Food Trucks Innovation Report include:


  • One-third of people aware of food trucks have not purchased from one.
  • Seventy percent of non-users are hesitant to make a purchase from a truck.
  • Sixty-one percent of truck users “stumble on them.”
  • Quick service restaurants are taking a hit with 54 percent of respondents choosing a truck versus stopping at a QSR.

Nation’s Restaurant News back in March reported that chains such as Carl’s Jr., Fatburger, In-N-Out Burger, Jack in the Box and others are putting franchised trucks on the road.

With the truck movement getting increased press and consumer attention, how long will it be before more restaurants and perhaps food retailers with strong foodservice programs get into the business?

It’s important to note that food trucks are not without their detractors. There is opposition mounting, especially from restaurants in cities, where owners complain about the competition when vendors park close by, as well as “street clog” and truck fumes, according to the New York Times

As an editorial comment: We would certainly make a stop at a “Wegmans Wagon” on the side of the road instead of going to any number of local fast food chain choices. On the other hand, it’s not likely we’ll take a 15-minute car ride to Wegmans closest store to get a sandwich when there are so many other options closer to home.

Discussion Questions: Do you see food trucks as a trend or a fad? Do you see more restaurants and perhaps even food retailers getting into the food truck business?

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14 Comments on "Survey Says: Food Trucks Here for the Long Haul"


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Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Food trucks are a convenient way to bring a quick meal to time-pressed consumers. There’s no reason why they can’t remain a factor in consumer dining if they maintain quality and convenience at a fair price.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 9 months ago

Every fad has the opportunity to become a trend if it stays well tuned to consumer desires, the changing times, quality images, location and convenience. As George said, there are various, non-constant conditions that impact on any decision to feed at a food truck — unless it is the only available option.

I remember when bakery, ice cream and produce trucks were active. They served their purpose but were replaced by supermarkets and other options. Now food trucks must deliver big time to stay in the ever-changing retail landscape. Thus, I feel today’s food truck is still a fad.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

A modest note from the industrial underbelly of America:

Food trucks (as a concept) are hardly new. They’ve been pulling up to plants since … well since … there were trucks and hungry workers.

What’s changed a bit is the quality and variety, but I hardly think a tradition stretching back well over half a century can really be called a fad.

Rick Moss
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Ryan, of course you’re right, but if we distinguish this as a Foodie Food Truck fad, perhaps you would agree “something’s happening here.” In many cases, these vendors are serving the same basic fare scarfed down by factory workers, but elevated for Yuppie taste buds.

Another aspect that’s, if not new, much more prevalent is the concept of chefs trying out ideas with a lower investment (on wheels) before making the move to open a restaurant.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

I LOVE food trucks. We have a mega-truck meet in Miami (outside Johnson and Wales University) every Tuesday night, with more than 20 trucks. I hope they’re here to stay. It’s totally fun.

Dan Stanek
Guest
Dan Stanek
9 years 9 months ago

I think they are fantastic for mobile and event marketing over the “long haul.” I don’t think they will be a permanent distribution “vehicle” for most chains.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Nobody knows how long the food truck trend will last, but there’s no question about how hot it is. (DC’s favorite is the lobster roll truck — people follow it on Twitter and form long lines.) Expense-account restaurants may not be impacted, but others could be.

Anne Howe
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

The magic of food trucks is truly the foodie aspect of the passionate people inside the truck who are delighted by the opportunity to cook, but also to mix and mingle with the consumers as well as other proprietors who are fulfilling similar dreams and ambitions.

I think food trucks are here to stay, especially in more urban markets with younger working populations, or in urban university settings. The eating experience at food trucks is usually very tasty and fun. Personally, I would avoid a chain QSR food truck like the plague. When the big operators show up in that trendy scene, it starts to lose its cache quickly.

Let’s hope more passionate foodies are willing to work as hard as they do to get food trucks to shoppers!

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

When you think about it, food trucks are just another twist on the small format, urban theme and they kick in mobility and the element of surprise/discovery. Compelling to say the least!

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
9 years 9 months ago

Food trucks, pop-up dining and farmers’ markets all cater to a mobile and connected consumer who is looking for good food, convenience and great value.

This trend has wheels (pun intended) and real potential to grow … at least for now. When the economy begins to improve, and convenience and value no longer tip the decision scale, then a return to traditional dining and shopping behavior will definitely impact this niche market.

But for now … Bon Appetit!

opinder sardana
Guest
opinder sardana
9 years 9 months ago

I agree that food trucks are not a new trend. However, I do believe that they are here to stay for a while at least in big cities and urban areas.

Some of the supporting factors in addition to others mentioned in previous posts:
– Proliferation in food choices, cuisines, and globalization
– Limited prime retail space at a good price and growing trend of less time availability for lunch and dinner
– “Instant gratification society” culture propagation coupled with social media advertising propelling consumer desires and wants all day long.

I also see this trend as a vehicle (no pun intended) for brand extension strategy by brands seeking to gain market share and offering consumers convenience and gaining loyalty.

Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Location, location, location. Food trucks bring the food to the consumer, so they offer premium locations at a value price. Industrial facilities have been using food trucks for years so that their workers can easily get food without having to leave the premises. The same holds true for many savvy chefs who are recognizing that they can get a kitchen in a truck for a fraction of the cost, minimize the number of personnel and enjoy premium product prices for a consistent business. Good prices, delivering products direct to the consumer, on fresh food, is a winning solution in any equation. Food trucks are here to stay.

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 9 months ago

Food trucks are very popular in big cities, where they can generate enough sales to stay in business. My concern is food safety, as who knows what is going on behind the scenes, but many folks love them for the convenience. Vegas has them all over the side streets on the strips, and people (usually young party kids) are lined up waiting to grab some grub. I think it will continue to do well in limited areas.

Rasha Proctor
Guest
Rasha Proctor
9 years 9 months ago

They have been popular in Austin, TX for the last 5-6 years. They appear to have moved from fad to a trend. Of course as some have mentioned, they will only remain if they keep on meeting the consumer’s needs (good food, quick service, cheaper prices, easy access, etc.).

I think food retailers are still watching the trucks to decide if they are worth the investment. Once they figure out the metrics for ROI and success measurement, they will jump on the opportunity.

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