Food carts, lunch wagons and trucks are not a new phenomenon, but the current incarnation surely is. The growing trend is gourmet street food, unique food service offerings, special event menus and catering options to suit every palate. Without a doubt, now is the most exciting time ever to be involved in the mobile food marketplace!
It all started in 2008 in Los Angeles when Chef Roy Choi used a social media platform, Twitter, to let his customers know where to find his Asian fusion taco truck, Kogi Korean BBQ. The combination of the availability of gourmet mobile food, an efficient way to communicate where to find it and the economic downturn resulted in a boom to the industry. A Los Angeles Times 2009 article questioned the longevity of the movement, but the subsequent growth and proven stamina of entrants have demonstrated that the new era of mobile food is here to stay! Now is the time for you to join the scene.
National Restaurant Association projections for 2011 peg sales from mobile food vendors at $630 million, up from $608 million in 2010. The market segments of the industry include:
- Street Food (Food sold from mobile facilities on public or private property where the seller has permission to sell)
- Institutional Food Service (Food sold at airports, colleges and universities, national parks, sports venues, and theme parks)
- Special Event Concessions (Food sold at fairs, festivals and other special events where locations and vendors change frequently)
- Catering (Large volume of food served in a limited period of time at an event)
Which segment of the mobile food market best suits your goals and aspirations?
The street food trend has been gaining a tremendous momentum over the past three years. This is due to the developments mentioned above, as well as the relaxation of city and county ordinances that previously have stymied the growth in the industry. There is an incredible amount of energy surrounding this sector, which is drawing both consumer and critical acclaim for the quality and diversity of food offerings.
Institutional Food Service
Typically, access to institutions served by this segment is managed through a bid process, with major U.S. companies such as Sodexo and Compass Group leading the way. Some opportunities exist for local mobile food service companies to include their products in these bids. While many of the bids require service in fixed cafeterias and restaurants, there is a growing need for companies to provide satellite food service in mobile facilities in some of these locations. If you can be nimble and provide rapidly deployed service in trailers and other mobile food vending equipment, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve great success in this sector.
Special Event Concessions
Fairs, festivals and other special events with relatively short durations require mobile food service. These are often provided in trailers or food trucks that remain stationary during the course of these events. The majority of event concessions operators are professional, however, a growing number of service clubs and other volunteer-based organizations hire mobile food vendors to help prepare and serve food at these events to earn money for their organizations.
Caterers frequently service events that require a pre-determined amount of food to be prepared and served in a limited amount of time. The size of the event determines the equipment and preparation requirements for the job. Typically, food service equipment required by caterers varies from that of other segments, as different health permit standards apply to these operations.
Metal Gourmet Solution
Metal Gourmet seeks to understand the growth dynamics and needs of each mobile food industry market segment and then match the appropriate equipment to those needs. Sometimes, we can supply the solution, and other times, we may recommend other vendors. At the end of the day, our goal is to have a satisfied customer. How may we help you succeed in the Mobile Food Marketplace?
To learn more about Metal Gourmet’s mobile food equipment solutions explore other sections of our website.