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Question: What makes a food truck successful? Is it a great menu? Fresh ingredients? The right location? All of these elements are important to a strong food truck, but they don’t guarantee success on their own. See what today's top mobile eateries do to succeed with our food truck trends for 2023!
The American food truck industry is a thriving multibillion-dollar market, projected to grow by over $500 million in the next five years. That’s a lot of competition – all with their own unique menus, dishes, and customer bases. If you want to lead that pack, you’ll need to stay ahead in the dynamic world of mobile dining.
Customer demands constantly evolve, and successful businesses adapt accordingly. With a handle on what food truck consumers crave this year, your mobile eatery will stay timely, relevant, and popular. Use our list of industry obsessions as a foundation to put your own unique touches upon. By doing so, you won’t just be following trends – you’ll be setting them.
There are many kinds of cuisines in this world, but why keep them apart? The combination of different dishes, flavors, and cultures is taking the food truck world by storm. Look at any hot food truck city’s most successful businesses, and you’ll see this trend in action. Korean tacos, Italian omakase, and Vietnamese burritos are just a few ways clever mobile chefs enhance traditional meals. Fusion lets food truck operators make the most of their ingredients – and craft some truly inspired plates.
Another thing that’s making mobile restaurateurs go crazy for fused-food is there really aren’t any rules about it. Whether two different flavors work together comes down to the skill of the chef. Even dishes that feature wildly-opposing ingredients are popular with customers thanks to the chaos cooking phenomenon.
The food truck industry is an exciting exception to the greater restaurant business. As a space driven by independent owners, it doesn’t have the same major brands as other eateries. That all might be changing, however, as some of the world’s largest fast-food franchises enter the mobile dining arena. A variety of recognizable chains like KFC, Pizza Hut, and Tim Hortons are getting into food trucks in a big way. While some operators might see this expansion as a threat, others are already preparing to capitalize on it – through franchising!
Franchising can be an excellent strategy for overcoming many of the challenges that running a food truck entails. It’s been a proven concept for decades with sit-down restaurants, helping savvy owners avoid many of the industry’s financial risks. By being part of a franchise, your truck will gain access to a brand that consumers already love. It could also let you leverage many of the benefits that major enterprises provide, like trademarked recipes and powerful marketing. So don’t fear corporate food trucks – get your slice of the pie with a franchise.
Chefs are artists, and an artist likes nothing more than being given free rein to create. Unfortunately, it can be tough for traditional restaurants to give chefs the resources they need to craft new recipes. This is where food trucks have an advantage! The lower costs and higher flexibility allowed to mobile restaurants provide the perfect environment for experimentation, innovation, and discovery. Today’s food trucks are eager to let their chefs develop passion projects, and customers are eager to taste the results.
As we’ve seen in Trend #1, modern eaters are tired of the same old dishes, and desperately crave something new. By letting chefs experiment, food truck owners make their businesses malleable and reactive, constantly growing and changing. This level of adaptability prevents customer burnout, and encourages frequent engagement and re-ordering. In a fast-paced industry like mobile dining, there’s always an opportunity for chefs to discover the next big thing.
Another question: What makes you more interested in food trucks than sit-down restaurants? Almost every operator will put floorspace into consideration. At their core, food trucks are a smaller representation of the restaurant experience – they’re compact, fast, and powerful. Maybe that’s why, in 2023, small-size food trucks are seeing a renaissance. This year’s industry analyses show that food trucks sized under 16 feet make significantly more revenue than their larger competitors. Based on this data, the experts agree: in mobile dining, size matters.
The advantages of small-size food trucks (14-16 feet) over larger ones (18+ feet) are numerous. A smaller size means less insurance, less staff, and – critically for businesses that operate out of vehicles – less gas. It also means less room for distractions, which keeps the employees working with these kinds of trucks focused and expedient. Remember: the size of a food truck doesn’t impact its quality, capacity, or ability to serve customers. If you’re looking for a way to maximize profit with your food truck, think big – buy small.
It’s no secret that plant-based alternatives have taken the food and beverage space by storm in the 2020s. Around the world, eaters are cutting back on animal-derived products and turning to plant-centric dishes for healthy, delicious dining. Plant-based meals have long been popular in traditional restaurants, and are now becoming a major presence on food truck menus. Respond to consumers’ desires for vegan and vegetarian meals, and you’ll join one of this decade’s trendiest dining segments.
Vegetarian or vegan diets aren’t just environmentally-friendly and ethically sound – they’re also less expensive to cook and serve than meals that use meat. Many vegan ingredients also pack the power of longevity, keeping longer than meat, cheese, or eggs in a mobile kitchen. These assets are just some of the reasons why plant-based dining makes sense for the cost-conscious food truck operator. In an industry where every dollar counts, serving up fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to beef up your profit margins.
It’s the 2020s, and food trucks are busier than ever before. A growing industry means more customers with higher demands, which can be tough to keep up with on your own. Thankfully, a variety of powerful kitchen management software now exists to help mobile restaurateurs of any kind improve, grow, and succeed. Top-level digital restaurant solutions provide the tools to effortlessly manage orders and menus, analyze customer data, and run impactful promotions. With resources like these, there’s never been a better time to be a food truck operator!
Modern dining software suites are tailor-made to streamline and enhance the experience of managing and working in a food truck. They free up time, effort, and energy for your staff, letting them utilize the other trends we’ve discussed here. Without an effective kitchen management system, mobile restaurateurs aren’t able to compete with today’s top trucks, preventing growth – and profit. Today’s digital kitchen solutions put the fun back in running a food truck.
At the start of this post, we asked you what makes a food truck successful. Did you guess the answer? The power to satisfy ever-changing customer demands is your food truck’s key to success and profit in 2023. Now that you understand this year’s leading trends in mobile dining, we encourage you to use them for your business. Take advantage of the right trends at the right time, and who knows? Your truck might just be on our list for 2024.