In the years leading up to the pandemic, the food truck industry was experiencing massive market growth with an average of 7.5% annually. And in 2021, food trucks are expected to make a significant comeback, and we are here for it. The leading factors for this are mobility, smaller startup costs, diversity, and increased technology and social media.
The Industry at a Glance
An obvious benefit of operating a food truck is mobility. Not only are they able to freely change locations, but this flexibility also allows for delivery and partnership options. Some restaurant operators are seeing this benefit and opening satellite trucks for promotional purposes.
Smaller startup costs allow for a more affordable option for first-time restaurant owners. This might explain why most food truck operators are private owners. It’s easier on the pockets of small business owners to start with a truck than from the ground up.
Diversity and creativeness on the menu are also why so many chefs and owners are turning towards this industry. The flexibility to change menus, source locally, and experiment is much greater with an operation on wheels. This also offers a unique opportunity to increase customer reach by adopting local specialties.
This creativity and mobility allow for better customer reach with geolocation tools on social media platforms informing customers of current locations. This direct interaction is great marketing, especially to millennials, who are the most prominent supporters of the food truck industry, making up 47% of the customer base.
The Pandemic and the Industry
And now to address the elephant in the room, how the pandemic has affected the food truck industry. We all know that covid wasn’t good to restaurant operators. The momentous lockdown led to the demise of countless restaurant endeavors – food trucks included. Due to the limited foot traffic, it is estimated that between 30 – 40% of food trucks have temporarily or permanently closed since the start of the pandemic. As a result, many small business owners have shifted their target audiences to specific neighborhoods, hospitals, and factories.
Regardless, the food truck industry overcame these challenging times. According to the U.S. Industry Statistics, food trucks have experienced an 11.7% business growth in 2021. And in the past five years, the industry has surged due to consumer preference, mainly due to customers choosing food trucks because they want a unique and exciting experience. The effects of this surge are still being felt, even after such harsh covid times.
The Future of the Industry
Although the food truck industry’s best years may be behind it, steady growth is still anticipated for future years to come. We saw that even a worldwide pandemic couldn’t stop this industry’s progress, and as the pandemic subsides, disposable income will continue to grow. As people spend more on eating out, more and more food truck operators will continue to receive support for their creative menus. I think it’s safe to say that these food trucks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.