Competition | November 2013 | By Chuck Green

Hot On Their Heels

Study shows food trucks give quick serves a run for their money.

Food trucks present a threat to traditional quick service restaurants.
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Competition is fierce in the restaurant industry, and quick serves are facing yet another threat in the fight for share of stomach. A recent study from the NPD Group, a global information company, revealed that when consumers opt for a food-truck visit, it often replaces a visit that otherwise would have gone to a quick-service restaurant. These findings reflect a direct competition in consumers’ minds between food trucks and limited-service restaurants. 

About half of those surveyed said they would have ordered from a fast-food restaurant if not from the food truck. Another 20 percent said they would have skipped the meal altogether, implying their visit to the food truck was spontaneous.

“I think food trucks are definitely competition for fast-food restaurants [because] food trucks generally put a gourmet twist on fast food,” says Shelley Beals, founder of The Fry Girl food truck in Los Angeles.

“Why eat at a fast-food restaurant when you can get a home-cooked, fast-food meal prepared with love and quality by a caring food-truck owner?”

Fortunately for quick serves, there isn’t too much to fear, since the food truck industry is small and trucks don’t operate in all parts of the country or all year long, says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD. Furthermore, consumers aren’t heavy users of trucks, she says.

The food-truck industry is also highly competitive with itself, Riggs says. “[Trucks] vie for the same location,” she says. “It’s a challenge to make a good profit margin.”