Food Trucks Survey: Industry Mainly Made Up of Small Brands

Food trucks are becoming increasingly popular among consumers in markets around the country. From mobile coffee carts that drive around cities throughout the day to specialty trucks that set up shop at special events, more and more people are starting to realize the benefits of mobile restaurants. In fact, a recent report by Mobile-Cuisine.com shows that the food truck industry was worth about $1.2 billion as of 2015. So how many consumers have patronized food trucks at some point? And what do they think of buying food from mobile vehicles? We asked 1,000 consumers their thoughts on the booming food truck trend.

food trucks

Food Trucks

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 23% of respondents said that they’ve bought food from food trucks many times in the past. And another 33% said they’ve patronized food trucks once or twice. But even though a fair amount of consumers said they’ve tried food trucks, they don’t seem to be particularly concerned with the brands or names behind those trucks. Many couldn’t recall the names of the food trucks they’ve bought from, and others said they’ve just bought from local trucks in their areas, including those selling tacos, hot dogs and ice cream.

In general, 50% of overall respondents think that food trucks have gotten at least somewhat more popular over the past five years. And 46% think that food trucks are likely to continue gaining popularity over the next five years.

Future Customers

Looking forward, 30% of consumers said they are at least somewhat likely to purchase from food trucks within the next year. Of those who have already patronized food trucks at least once, 42% said they would be likely to do so again in the coming year.

Of those who are likely to buy from food trucks this year, 20% said they would consider buying sandwiches from food trucks. 19% would buy burgers or hot dogs. 17% would buy Mexican food. 15% would buy appetizers or finger foods. 14% would buy desserts. And 13% would buy coffee. In addition, 32% said they would be likely to consider purchasing from food trucks stationed at fairs or special events. 30% would buy from food trucks set up at street corners. 23% would buy from trucks at malls or shopping centers. And 13% would buy from trucks at construction or industrial sites.

Food Purchases

More generally, 84% of overall consumers said they regularly buy food from grocery stores. 64% regularly patronize fast food restaurants. 49% buy from quick service restaurants regularly. 46% patronize full service restaurants. 15% support both food stands and food trucks regularly. And 14% go to specialty food retail stores regularly. Those who go to fast food restaurants regularly were also more likely to go to food trucks regularly, and slightly more likely to be open to buying from food trucks within the next year.

And when making those food purchases, it seems that cost, quality and taste are most important. 21% of food consumers consider cost to be important when making food purchases. And 20% each feel that quality and taste are important. 15% look at the ingredients used. 10% value creativity. 7% look at aesthetics. And 6% look at the sustainability of food businesses. Those who have patronized food trucks generally valued the same factors as other consumers when it comes to making food purchases.

Key Takeaways

Although the food truck industry is growing, there still aren’t a lot of big names that consumers remember supporting over and over again, which could mean that food trucks need to put more resources into building their brands in person and online. But for food truck businesses there may be ways to spur even more growth. Special events, for example, can get food trucks in front of plenty of consumers, many of whom should be actually willing to purchase food from those businesses. In addition, targeting fast food customers could be a good way to bring interested consumers’ attention to food truck businesses. In addition, a couple of larger food brands, including White Castle and Taco Bell, have used food trucks as a way to get more consumer attention. And the lack of big name brands in the space could mean that there’s an opening for even more big brands to get involved and really make a name for themselves in the market.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Food Trucks Around Town by CityofStPete under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on July 30 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Pilon
Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.