Food truck are hot. They have been highlighted as a food trend, new industry model, cultural fad and a political hot potato in the press.
We decided to spend some time figuring this out and just released our findings in Food Trucks Motor into the Mainstream, a new research report from Intuit and Emergent Research (that's us).
This continues the broader Intuit 2020 research series which assesses long term trends impacting small businesses and consumers.
As part of this project, Emergent Research conducted in-person interviews with 272 food truck customers. The team also interviewed 27 food truck owners or managers in person, by email or on the phone. All of these interviews were conducted in San Francisco or nearby suburbs.
We also conducted a series of interviews with industry experts, government officials and other members of the broader food truck industry. These interviews were mostly by phone and the interviewees were distributed across the country.
The underlying theme from this survey work is that food trucks are not a fad, but instead a viable market segment. We found that food trucks have substantial competitive and business model advantages relative to their main competitors, which are take-out, fast and fast-casual food vendors.
Another key finding is that food trucks operate much like lean technology startups. They focus on rapid prototyping, business flexibility, cash and resource conservation and a laser-like focus on customers to quickly adapt to market needs. We first reported on this in our article Food Trucks as Lean Startups.
Based on these advantages and operating agility, Emergent Research forecasts that food truck industry revenues will grow fourfold over the next 5 years, reaching $2.7 billion in 2017.
On the consumer side, we found that diners not only like food truck food, but they enjoy the experience of eating at food trucks. More than 90 percent of the diners interviewed rated food truck quality as either excellent (43 percent) or good (48 percent). Just over 80 percent of those interviewed used words like fun, exciting, new, different, unusual and unique when asked why they dined at food trucks.
There's much more in the full report and click here to download it.
Also check out our Food Truck category for more food truck coverage.