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Food Trucks - US - September 2013

“Food trucks must face many barriers in order to break through and find success. These include overcoming a lack of physical location, meeting governmental regulations, finding a way to achieve operational efficiencies, and meeting the needs of mobile consumers. While some food truck operators have found unique ways to solve these issues, they are often the problems keeping these mobile restaurateurs awake at night.”

– Bethany Wall, Foodservice Analyst

This report looks at the following areas:

  • How the lack of physical location affects food trucks
  • How food trucks are overcoming regulatory concerns
  • What food trucks can do to increase operational efficiencies
  • Meeting the needs of mobile consumers

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Consumer survey data
            • Abbreviations and terms
              • Abbreviations
                • Terms
                • Executive Summary

                    • Market drivers
                      • Opportunities
                        • Competition
                          • The consumer
                            • Figure 1: Reasons for not visiting food trucks, July 2013
                            • Figure 2: Changes in behavior for food trucks, July 2013
                            • Figure 3: Selection factors for food trucks, July 2013
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                              • How the lack of physical location affects food trucks
                                • Issues
                                  • Insights
                                    • How food trucks are overcoming regulatory concerns
                                      • Issues
                                        • Insights
                                          • What food trucks can do to increase operational efficiencies
                                            • Issues
                                              • Insights
                                                • Meeting the needs of mobile consumers
                                                  • Issues
                                                    • Insights
                                                    • Innovations and Innovators

                                                      • Gourmet food trucks
                                                        • Truck-and-mortar concepts
                                                          • Food trucks in new places
                                                            • Customization
                                                              • Technology
                                                              • Trend Applications

                                                                  • Trend: Prove It!
                                                                    • Trend: Influentials
                                                                      • Mintel Futures: Access Anything Anywhere
                                                                      • Market Drivers

                                                                          • Foodservice and drinking place sales have inched downward
                                                                            • Figure 4: Adjusted foodservice and drinking place sales, in millions, January 2008-June 2013
                                                                          • Restaurant Performance Index lingers around the 100 mark
                                                                            • Figure 5: Restaurant Performance Index, January 2009-June 2013
                                                                          • Economic indicators
                                                                            • Government legislation
                                                                              • Millennials drive usage
                                                                                • Locations
                                                                                  • Obesity
                                                                                    • Kitchen space
                                                                                      • Operational
                                                                                      • Competitive Context

                                                                                        • Pop-up restaurants
                                                                                          • Chains with trucks
                                                                                            • Kiosks and carts
                                                                                              • Catering and delivery
                                                                                                • Grocery and convenience stores
                                                                                                  • Limited service restaurants
                                                                                                  • Marketing Strategies

                                                                                                    • Local community involvement
                                                                                                      • Causes and charitable programs
                                                                                                        • Unconventional marketing
                                                                                                          • Social media
                                                                                                            • Figure 6: Food truck visitation frequency and interest, by social networking activities, July 2013
                                                                                                            • Figure 7: Reasons for not visiting food trucks, by social networking activities, July 2013
                                                                                                            • Figure 8: Consumer behavior for food trucks, by social networking activities, July 2013
                                                                                                        • Menu Analysis

                                                                                                            • Specialize, specialize, specialize
                                                                                                              • The top most ordered food truck cuisine
                                                                                                                • Mmmpanadas
                                                                                                                  • The Butcher’s Son
                                                                                                                    • Serving Americana
                                                                                                                      • Mac and Cheese Store and Truck
                                                                                                                        • The Melt
                                                                                                                          • Driving and delivering drinks
                                                                                                                            • Juicebox
                                                                                                                              • Green Pirate
                                                                                                                                • Food without borders
                                                                                                                                  • Calexico
                                                                                                                                    • Taceaux Loceaux
                                                                                                                                      • The Taco Truck
                                                                                                                                        • United snacks of America
                                                                                                                                          • Potato Champion
                                                                                                                                            • The Fry Girl
                                                                                                                                              • Desserts
                                                                                                                                                • Love Cupcakes
                                                                                                                                                  • Coolhaus
                                                                                                                                                  • The Food Truck Consumer – Overview

                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                      • The average food truck consumer
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 9: Food truck visitation frequency and interest, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 10: Reasons for not visiting food trucks, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 11: Food truck daypart usage, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 12: Items ordered from food trucks, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 13: Changes in behavior for food trucks, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 14: Selection factors for food trucks, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 15: Consumer behavior for food trucks, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                      • The Food Truck Consumer – By Daypart

                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                          • Speed of service and health are important at breakfast
                                                                                                                                                            • Lunch consumers less likely to order fried sides or desserts
                                                                                                                                                              • Portability matters when it comes to snacks
                                                                                                                                                                • Mediterranean foods popular at dinner
                                                                                                                                                                  • Late-night consumers are social
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 16: Items ordered from food trucks, by food truck daypart usage, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 17: Selection factors for food trucks, by food truck daypart usage, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 18: Consumer behavior for food trucks, by food truck daypart usage, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                • The Food Truck Consumer – By Gender

                                                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                    • Women perceive food trucks to be unclean or unhealthy
                                                                                                                                                                      • Men value portability
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 19: Food truck visitation frequency and interest, by gender, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 20: Reasons for not visiting food trucks, by gender, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 21: Food truck daypart usage, by gender, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 22: Items ordered from food trucks, by gender, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 23: Changes in behavior for food trucks, by gender, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Selection factors for food trucks, by gender, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 25: Consumer behavior for food trucks, by gender, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                      • The Food Truck Consumer – By Age

                                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                          • Overview
                                                                                                                                                                            • Millennials are price sensitive and like variety
                                                                                                                                                                              • Despite higher incomes, Baby Boomers prefer to eat at home or at restaurants instead
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 26: Food truck visitation frequency and interest, by age, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 27: Reasons for not visiting food trucks, by age, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 28: Food truck daypart usage, by age, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 29: Items ordered from food trucks, by age, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Changes in behavior for food trucks, by age, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Selection factors for food trucks, by age, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Consumer behavior for food trucks, by age, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                              • The Food Truck Consumer – By Income

                                                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Low-income consumers prefer fried sides, not too concerned with variety
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Middle-class consumers have trouble locating food trucks easily
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cuisine type is important to affluent consumers
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 33: Reasons for not visiting food trucks, by household income, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 34: Food truck daypart usage, by household income, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 35: Items ordered from food trucks, by household income, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 36: Changes in behavior for food trucks, by household income, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 37: Selection factors for food trucks, by household income, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                      • The Food Truck Consumer – By Race

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Whites seek food trucks that are easily accessible
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Blacks enjoy traditional American fare
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Asians prefer a variety of cuisine types, as long as they are authentic
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 38: Food truck daypart usage, by race, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 39: Items ordered from food trucks, by race, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 40: Selection factors for food trucks, by race, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 41: Consumer behavior for food trucks, by race, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                              • The Food Truck Consumer – By Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hispanics rely on word-of-mouth and provide reviews
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 42: Food truck visitation frequency and interest, by Hispanic origin, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 43: Reasons for not visiting food trucks, by race/Hispanic origin, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 44: Changes in behavior for food trucks, by Hispanic origin, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 45: Food truck daypart usage, by Hispanic origin, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 46: Items ordered from food trucks, by Hispanic origin, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 47: Selection factors for food trucks, by Hispanic origin, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 48: Consumer behavior for food trucks, by Hispanic origin, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • The Food Truck Consumer – By Region

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Northeasterners skew healthy in their item selection
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Midwesterners are concerned with price and portability
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Southerners are well-suited for combo meal deals
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Westerners are interested in ethnic cuisine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 49: Food truck visitation frequency and interest, by region, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 50: Reasons for not visiting food trucks, by region, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Food truck daypart usage, by region, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 52: Items ordered from food trucks, by region, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 53: Changes in behavior for food trucks, by region, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 54: Selection factors for food trucks, by region, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 55: Consumer behavior for food trucks, by region, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 56: Food truck daypart usage, by social networking activities, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 57: Items ordered from food trucks, by social networking activities, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 58: Selection factors for food trucks, by social networking activities, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 59: Changes in behavior for food trucks, by social networking activities, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 60: Food truck visitation frequency and interest, by household income, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 61: Consumer behavior for food trucks, by household income, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 62: Food truck visitation frequency and interest, by race, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 63: Reasons for not visiting food trucks, by race, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 64: Changes in behavior for food trucks, by race, July 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Market Drivers

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Consumer confidence
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 65: University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment (ICS), 2007-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Unemployment
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 66: U.S. Unemployment Rate, by month, 2002-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 67: U.S. unemployment and underemployment rates, 2007-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 68: Number of employed civilians in U.S., in thousands, 2007-13
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Food cost pressures
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 69: Changes in USDA Food Price Indexes, 2011-14
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Obesity
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 70: American adults, by weight category as determined by body mass index (BMI), 2008-June 20, 2013
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Childhood and teen obesity – highest in decades
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 71: Prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 2-19, 1971-2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Racial, ethnic population growth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 72: U.S. population by race and Hispanic origin, 2008, 2013, and 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 73: Households with children, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2012
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Shifting U.S. demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 74: U.S. population, by age, 2008-18
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 75: U.S. households, by presence of own children, 2002-12
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • National Restaurant Association (NRA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • U.S. Bureau of the Census

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Food Trucks - US - September 2013

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  £3,199.84 (Excl.Tax)