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.

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.”


It's unlikely that food trucks are as much of a threat as this article states.While the survey percentages may be compelling I have doubts that the number of consumers frequenting food trucks is very high in comparison to QSR, Fast Casual, FSR or bag lunches from home.Curiously, just about every food truck purveyor when you ask them what their growth plans are? Those plans include them building bricks & mortar locations.

I do believe food trucks are just a flash. They have actually been around for years, just not as many. They are hurting each other. My idea would be to have a location for the truck at lunch, and another spot for evening, and keep those forever, as long as traffic is good for me. Most move around to different spots everyday. I believe that to be a bad idea. In Wichita, Ks. we have like fifteen trucks, and I would safely say over half is having problems staying in business. I know of six that have went broke. I would imagine that within the next year two, or three will still be in operation. They will never hurt fast food places, or real concessionaires. It is too bad they have to learn the hard way.

Food Trucks----definitely take my business away. I am irate! My land taxes are astronomic plus CO's, health permits labor costs etc. etc. you get the picture. How do they meet health dept standards? Sinks, hot water toilets ? What do they contribute to the City in revenue? I have a construction site across from my restaurants, the workers were outstanding customers. One day the Roach Coach showed up and there went a huge chunk of my lunch business and my average check! We must not allow these cheap trucks take our business. A business that took blood sweat and tears to build, not to take lightly the amount of money it took to start. Where do they do their prep at home in their kitchen?? Totally illegal. Thanks for listening.

Kas,I'm sorry for your loss in business, but it's not the food trucks fault. In most cases, restaurants that lose business when food trucks appear is due to poor food quality, poor service and or bad marketing of the restaurant. All food trucks do is give the consumer alternative choices as to where to spend their money.In regards to your other concerns, most food trucks are inspected by health officials than restaurants since their truck and commercial kitchen (where they prep their food) are inspected separately. The modern food trucks have to have 3 compartment sinks, hand wash sinks and all of their food has to meet the same food safety requirements as any restaurant does.Oh and by the way, a food truck business may have a cheaper cost of entrance, but they have many similar costs as your restaurant does. They may not to pay a lease, but they do have to pay rent for a separate kitchen, they have have truck maintenance because if their truck breaks down, their business shuts down until its back on the road.No restaurant should worry about food trucks, even if they park in front of their store front. You have so many advantages (seating, tables, interior atmosphere, food storage capabilities, heat, air conditioning to name a few) if you have creative and tasty food and great service and know how to market your restaurant you should outshine your competition no matter who they are.

Over here in Paris (not Texas, but France), food trucks are the new rave. They allow to start up a neighbourhood business in a real estate market where key money for 1A locations is totally out of reach for young entrepreneurs (count once annual sales of your predecessor for a start!). French health authorities pay a lot of attention, so the food is generally prepared in a kitchen outside town fully compliant with HACCP and then driven to the place of consumption. Great products to sell that way are Pizza Al Taglia, Paninis, sandwiches (baguette!), cakes etc. Given the ever shrinking purchasing power and tighter lunch times (the average is down to 22 min. these days), proximity is the key word and if you park your truck at the bottom of a big office building, that might suffice for a shift. So I think QSR bricks and mortar are going to disappear at a faster rate than food trucks!

Kas,In most cities food trucks must have a commercial commissary associated with it's mobile vending license. The commissary facility is where the owner/operator is to prepare it's food, clean and sanitize it's truck and so forth.I agree with Mr. Myrick in regards to loss of business. If you blame a food truck(s) for your loss in traffic, you need to look at your own business a bit more closely.Joe,In some cases, a food truck is a stepping stone for the owner/operator to save up enough capital for a brick and mortar operation. I say BRAVO! In the meanwhile it brings unique cuisine to the community, adds jobs and generated tax

I would have to agree with that. Food truck had become traditional in our country. It's no comparison to restaurants I must say. It's a whole different concept.

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