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51 Food Truck Industry Statistics, Trends and Analysis

Food trucks are something that has been around for years and over time, have progressed massively. It all started off back in the 19th century, with the classic Chuck Wagon, which is where the food truck industry took off. With the Food Truck Industry statistics along with related trends and analysis, we will dive deep into the future of this industry.

In the US, it is believed that the first food truck to hit the streets was in 1936, with the Wienermobile. Since then, we have seen this industry grow and develop, offering all sorts of tasty treats on the go. It’s of course a great and convenient invention for most people, a food truck that is mobile, meaning you can easily grab some lunch, whilst on the go.

So, it’s no wonder they became so popular in America and have developed into what they are today. What’s not to love about that!

They are also a great business venture for people to get into and share their cultures and flavors, with other people. It’s so easy and simple to set up, as all you need is your truck and equipment and you’re good to go.

There have been many success stories over the years, of how it has helped families, to share their passion, foods, and cultures, with the people that surround them.

Food Truck Industry Statistics and Trends

#1. At present day, the food trust industry makes around $2 billion in revenues, just across the US. This is an increase in sales of triple what it was, back in 2014.

#2. Around 90% of food truck diners would say the quality of food they received was good or excellent. About 80% of diners say it was exciting, unique and fun, during their experiences with a food truck.

#3. Upscale beverages are one of the most profitable items, available at most food trucks, in the present day. It is believed that beverages such as high-quality tea, ice cream, and homemade lemonade, can be sold for around $6, making an instant profit from it.

#4. It takes around 37 business days for a new food truck to gain all valid permits, for their business to start up. Before receiving your valid permits and licenses, you are not able to start trading.

#5. To start up in the food truck industry, it can cost around $55,000 on average. Things that need to be set up when starting out in the food truck industry include a van, kitchen appliances, non-kitchen equipment, labor costs, kitchenware, generator, marketing, and food costs.

#6. In a year, a food truck can revenue between $250,000 and $500,000.

#7. The food truck industry growth is at 5.4%, whereas the commercial restaurant industry currently stands at 4.3. This means the food truck industry is actually outgrowing, the commercial and restaurant industry.

#8. In the year 2020, there were 23,873 active food trucks, running as a business, in the US. This figure is always growing, as the industry is becoming more popular, across the US and the world.

#9. 47% of millennials have eaten from a food truck at some point in their life.

#10. In the past 4 years, those in the US have seen a growth of 600% in the vegan market, making it a very popular choice when it comes to food. More food trucks are starting to offer vegan options, due to their popularity.

#11. Another trend that has been found boost sales and interest, is biodegradable packaging. This is something that is the future of food trucks, so a great trend to jump on straight away. The biodegradable trend is becoming popular, to help reduce plastic and waste in the world. This is something that will only increase even more over the years and things such as no plastic and waste are expected to start coming into place, across the world.

#12. The most common age group of people to purchase a meal from a food truck is between the ages of 18 and 34, closely followed by 54% being aged between 35 and 44. These are the key age groups to focus on when promoting your food truck business, and they are most likely to be on social media platforms too.

#13. In Chicago, around 80% of food trucks are minority-owned small businesses. The owners feel it represents a wide variety of races, ages, income levels, and genders, helping to create a local community.

#14. In the United States, 38% of food truck owners are immigrants, 30% are owned by women and 8% are LGBTQIA+ owned.

#15. The most expensive location for operating a food truck is Boston, recording a total of around $38,000 annually in fees.

#16. On the other hand, Portland takes the lead for the least expensive food truck operating costs, costing just $5,410.

#17. In Washington D.C, it is thought that the food truck industry has helped to produce 1,000 full-time jobs.

#18. Following on from this, 20 of those food truck businesses that provided jobs, have now turned into an actual commercial restaurant.

#19. On average, someone will spend $10 on lunch at a food truck and $15 for dinner.

#20. Charles Goodnight created the first food truck back in 1866, using an army surplus wagon.

#21. The last Friday in June is National Eat at a Food Truck Day.

#22. There are 20 major US cities that have ‘proximity bans’ for food trucks. This means that the food trucks aren’t allowed to park near brick-and-mortar restaurants. They have even attached GPS to some food trucks, so they are able to enforce the ban, more easily.

#23. Food trucks use social media platforms, to inform customers on where they will and any changes to their menu, which is a great way to promote their business.

#24. The top 3 most common foods that food trucks sell are sandwiches, tacos and hamburgers.

#25. Almost all diners, will come back for more after their first food truck experience.

#26. Social media is a key trend nowadays, with most of the food truck industry posting online. Typically, their most common customers will all be on social media and therefore this is the best way for them to promote their business and get their name out there.

#27. Some cities in the US, require food trucks to pass twice as many health inspections every year, compared to a normal restaurant.

#28. Cities also require a fire marshal to verify the condition of the equipment in the food truck, which they must pass.

#29. As we have seen above, the younger generation is more likely to be regular customers of food trucks. However, 53% of older diners are likely to visit a food truck, if it’s connected with a favorite food or restaurant from their younger years.

#30. It’s important for the food truck industry to keep up with upcoming trends, whether that be food trends, generational trends, social media trends, or economical trends.

#31. Quite often, food trucks will make their trucks stand out with bright colors, different shaped vans and get involved on social media, in order to keep up with today’s generation and also get their name out there, to gain business.

#32. Another trend that many are trying out, is commercial restaurants, also experimenting with a food truck. They can use it to try out new concepts, recipes, and menu ideas, as well as gaining more popularity and money. It’s a great way for commercial restaurants to get their names out there, even more.

#33. More food trucks across the US are starting to cater to a wider variety of people, which is expected to increase even more in the coming years. Things such as peanut butter alternatives, gluten alternatives, etc. are becoming more popular, amongst food trucks.

#34. In the last 5 years, the food truck employment history has increased by 6.1%, with a current record of over 30,000 employees, working in a food truck, in the US.

#35. Most food trucks are great for their convivence of being able to grab and go. More food trucks in the US, are ditching the processed snacks and using refrigerated snacks instead such as soups and vegetables, and dips. When customers need something to grab on the go, they’re more likely to choose something nutritious than processed. The refrigerated snacks trend looks like it may become more popular, not only across food trucks but also in convenience stores.

#36. Around 30% of food truck operators’ income comes from event hire. This is becoming a more popular trend, where food trucks turn up to private events such as a wedding that could potentially see about 100-200 people there. It’s a great way for food truck owners to make more money and is becoming more popular, with private events.

#37. Some commercial restaurants have used food trucks to test out new menus and products, before serving them in their restaurant. This is becoming more popular and the food truck industry is being used more and more, for testing out new products and trying out new things.

#38. The forecast for the food truck industry is expected to expand at 4.9% CAGR through 2026.

#39. The average hourly rate for servers working at a food truck is $12 per hour.

#40. The average hourly rate for a head chef at a food truck is on average, $23.30 per hour. The owners and operators of the food truck can make significantly more or less, depending on the location and current situation of the business.

#41. The easiest city to set up a food truck business in is Denver. In Denver, you only require 10 procedures in order to obtain your permit and license, to then be able to operate. This makes it the easiest and possibly quickest city, to set up a food truck in.

#42. Revenue stream of a food truck is $290,000 average.

#43. Food truck industry earns over $2B in revenue per year in the United States.

#44. Almost all food truck customers said in a survey that they will continue to visit food trucks in the next year.

#45. Denver has the food truck laws that are easiest to comply with. The cost of obtaining all the proper permits and licenses is less than $900.

#46. In order to start a food truck business, owners have to complete 45 government-mandated permits and licenses.

#47. All the permits required to operate a new food truck is over $28,000 in average.

#48. Last year, food truck industry employed 28,916 people in United States.

#49. Legal bottlenecks are slowing down the growth of the food truck industry. It is expected to grow only .4% this year.

#50. Last year, the overall revenue from food trucks grew over $985M.

#51. Food truck lovers mentioned the fast serving times, convenience, high-quality and low price of the as why they love them.

Food Truck Industry Analysis

There’s no doubt about it when we say that the food truck industry has certainly grown over the years and is expected to keep growing, for many years. With today’s generation growing up on social media and in a faster pace world, the convenience of the food truck is a great option for many.

The food truck industry can also very easily get their names out there and promote their business, all on social media, which is something they can do themselves, to save them having to pay out for advertising.

There are constant ongoing trends when it comes to food, from gluten-free and vegan to healthier snacks and bio-degradable packaging. These are things that won’t go away anytime soon and will, in fact, grow and develop even more. So, if you’re a food truck owner, now is your time to look into these trends and think about incorporating them into your business, in the coming years.

The one downside to the food truck industry is that it can be expensive to start out in. You need to have enough money to be able to purchase a van in the first place, which may then need renovating, to suit your food truck needs. Along with this, you also have all the equipment, permits and licenses, food, marketing, and employee costs to cover as well.

It can be a hard business to start up, by yourself, but once you’ve achieved the first initial stages, you should be good to go. The good thing we can see with the food truck industry is that it is always growing and becoming more popular, so it’s only expected that you will make a good profit in years to come, by starting up in the food truck industry.

With the most popular age groups to be between 18-34, it’s safe to say that social media will help your business out massively. This is an ongoing trend and always will be and it’s a great tool to use to grow your business. This age group is also more willing to try new foods and share them, so this is probably the best target audience for food truck owners.

The food truck industry is a great business to get started in, to share your passion and culture with others and make money from it. With ongoing trends, younger generations, healthier eating, and social media, there’s so much freedom when it comes to the food truck industry.

Be sure to always follow the latest trends, as well as what is predicted for the future, to always keep up to date with the present day and what everyone wants.