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Dec 19

Written by: Lakeside
Monday, December 19, 2011 1:30 PM 

When the food trend predictions for 2011 were released back in January, food trucks made numerous lists.  However, did anyone really predict how popular mobile food would really become?  With a food truck inspired television show and popular restaurants expanding their food to the streets, from the looks of it, this trend will continue to be exposed in 2012.  What is it about food trucks that intrigue customers to try their favorite dish on the street?

According to the National Restaurant Association, “59 percent of consumers would likely visit a food truck if their favorite restaurant offered it.”  This is an increase of 12% from 2010.  The NRA also disclosed that the food truck popularity varied by region.  More consumers were able to find food trucks in the West while the least sightings were in the Midwest.  Most of these food trucks were spotted by chance, while others visited popular food truck locations or heard of the truck from a friend or through social media.

With some food trucks even dating back to the 1800s in the United States, what has made this trend really take off?  Convenience and the increasing variety of food being sold is developing a greater interest among consumers.  Gone are the days of solely ice cream and hot dogs being sold in these mobile eateries, but now customers can purchase Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine to even locally grown food.  Dessert trucks have also expanded their selection as customers can easily purchase donuts, parfaits, and specialty cupcakes when craving a sweet treat.  Food trucks perfectly cater to the on-the-go life style of many Americans and offer a quick escape from the office over lunch, avoiding lunchtime traffic at a lower cost.

From the perspective of the restaurant industry, food trucks are a less risky investment than opening a restaurant.  With the slow-growing economy, mobile eateries have become more promising in the eyes of food service professionals enabling this trend to really take off.  However, this trend isn’t only expanding in the streets and city festivals, but to weddings too.  Wedding food trucks ranked 8th on The Knot’s “Top 11 Wedding Trends for 2011.”

What are some of the top food trucks serving up?  QSR released a list of the top 20 food trucks, but here are some of the delectable mobile meals and snacks served:

  • Coriander-braised duck
  • Indian-spiced mini-donuts
  • Made-to-order ice cream sandwiches
  • Lobster salads
  • Empanadas
  • Pumpkin pizza
  • Specialty pulled pork sandwiches
  • Red velvet pancake bites

As the food truck business is booming, restaurants can work to translate this trend to their menus and establishments.  Expand your restaurant’s sandwich, pizza, and burger menu with ethnic varieties and surprising ingredients.  In addition, offering items that are more “snackable” could add that extra spice to the entrée selections.  Try adding some street food winning dishes to your menu at the same affordable price. 

How else can your restaurant compete with food trucks?  Transform your restaurant’s entryway, patio, or even right outside the entrance into a mobile eatery.  With the right Mart Cart or a Serv ‘N Express, offer guests select unique meals without the sit-down experience at the same affordable convenience of a food truck.  With mobile equipment, you can easily serve customers from numerous locations.

With 2012 just around the corner, we will soon see where the food truck trend takes us and how restaurants will react.  One thing is for sure, ingredient combinations and mobile meal options will be taken to a whole new level.

 

 

How is your restaurant spicing up its menu and space to stay in the competition? 

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