Sunday, April 29, 2012
One of the more interesting foodservice developments in recent years is the emergence of “food trucks” as a new food purchase option for consumers . A food truck ( or mobile food vehicle ) is essentially a mobile kitchen that usually has a product theme and serves a specific product line . These “trucks” have been built , engineered and/or remodeled to have full kitchen capability to produce their product.
Like many cities around the US , Lexington is in the throes of figuring out the best way to adapt to this trend in a common sense community , consumer and business friendly fashion. Before delving into this I think its useful to review some information about food trucks .
1. One of the best known and respected restaurant research and analysis organizations is Technomic ( www.technomic.com ) . In 2011 they produced a study that indicated that food trucks are a trend with staying power and not a fad . Furthermore , its a trend with a lot of potential growth potential .
2. Social media is an important element of food truck success . Food trucks are mobile and social media is a convenient way to not only keep up with where they will be , it is also way for the consumer to “connect” with the business. Additionally, for a business with no permanent address or location , Twitter or other social media gives it a sense of place or permanence.
3. Food trucks are a lower capital investment cost way to get into the food business which is always important but more so in a down economy .. Additionally, because they are mobile there is also no “location risk” . A game changing business model .
4. The lower investment threshold can make it easier to get into the food business which reduces a barrier to entry for food innovators . This makes the food truck business environment an important element in a regional culture of food innovation which feeds into other elements of a creative city . They are becoming symbols of innovation .
5. Closely related to the social media factor is the emergence of mobile apps to assist people in finding food trucks . Examples include Food Truck Fiesta, Road Stoves GPS and Roaming Hunger .
6. The social media and mobile communication aspect helps explain why food trucks are so popular with the millennial generation ( or post Gen X ) which is 50 million strong and the largest generation in the history of the United State . They are mobile oriented and attracted to unusual and unconventional communication .
7. Established restaurants can use food trucks to extend their brand in their region and/or test the acceptance of their brand in other markets .
Lexington, probably due to market size , has lagged behind Louisville in the food truck arena . However, much has happened in the last year revealing that there are real issues that must be addressed to make the business environment friendly to food trucks but in a way that is fair with other “stakeholders” in the discussion. Additionally, there is the related issue of “food carts” which are smaller, not vehicular, and can locate on sidewalks .
Posted by Mark Sievers at 5:45 PM