The wheels aren’t exactly flying off the food-truck trend. New research from the National Restaurant Association shows considerable pent-up demand for the Recession-born dining option, with consumers finding few opportunities to indulge.
Nearly 60% of the public would frequent a food truck run by their favorite restaurant, but fewer than 20% saw one of any variety in their neighborhoods this summer, the Association found. When the option was there, nearly 30% bought a meal from wheels.
“In just one year, the number of consumers who say they would be likely to visit a food truck has increased significantly,” says Hudson Riehle, the NRA’s head of research.
He attributes the demand to the same yearning for convenience that fueled brick-and-mortar restaurant development: Consumers want ease of access, and truck restaurants are “essentially bringing the restaurant to the customer.”
The data show that supply is the major impediment to truck dining’s growth. Trucks have more of a presence in the West and Northeast, Riehle notes.
He adds that the findings point to a solid opportunity for restaurants that don’t have to worry about parking tickets or miles per gallon. “Though food trucks are often equated with chefs and entrepreneurs, they also present opportunities for operators of established restaurants to expand their operations and presence,” Riehle observes.