Street Food: Food Trucks and Innovation
The rise in popularity of food trucks and mobile markets in the US has been considerable over the past two years. Facilitated by the popularity of social media communication sites like Twitter and Facebook, together with a growing interest from consumers for exclusive, different food experiences, urban street food businesses are fast becoming innovation leaders.
Which trends are working for street food?
Convenience - food trucks and mobile street food markets are able to bring accessible eating experiences direct to the consumer by constantly moving between locations. This allows them to be responsive to local tastes, to vary their menus depending upon the area they visit and to incorporate consumer suggestions, introducing new products.
Innovation - remaining small and mobile allows street food businesses to experiment with new ideas, tastes and products with relatively small risk. Without the overheads of high street premises and with the advantage of an ever-changing clientele, mobile foodservice businesses can adapt and respond to changing tastes, new ideas, changing local produce and emerging trends far more quickly than established food providers.
Experiences - the culture of food trucks, supported by social media such as Twitter and Facebook, benefits from lifestyle appeal. As many of the locations are only advertised on the day, communities are established online which makes consumers identify with, and ‘feel part of’ the business. Also the diversity of food trucks means that any type of food, eating occasion, regional speciality and flavour combination is possible. Notable examples are The Buttermilk Truck in Los Angeles http://buttermilktruck.com which serves only breakfast specialities all day; Korilla BBQ Truck in New York http://www.korillabbq.com a Korean barbecue truck offering Korean fusion food such as Korean Tacos; Flirty Cupcakes Truck in Chicago https://twitter.com/#!/FlirtyCupcakes serving only cupcakes in a wide selection of unusual flavours; Fojol Bros Truck in Washington DC http://fojol.com/ which has taken a new approach to Indian cuisine by inventing mythical Indian regions for their Asian-fusion menu; and Be More Pacific Truck in Austin, Texas http://www.bemorepacifictruck.com which serves Filipino-American fusion cuisine.
Provenance - the diversity of cuisines on offer in US food trucks is endless, meaning that consumers are offered the opportunity to sample food and flavours from around the world on their doorstep. Region-specific flavours and traditional recipes combined with fresh, locally-sourced, natural ingredients - all of which consumers are increasingly seeking out - bring a new level of food accessibility and allow consumers authentic dishes at a fraction of the cost of restaurant dining. All of this appeals to lifestyle aspirations of consumers.
Food trucks around the world
While the modern food truck movement began in the US, the trend is now beginning to appear globally:
In the UK the mobile food market collective eat.st http://www.eat.st offers a range of mobile food businesses within London but aims to develop the UK grassroots street food movement to encompass the whole of the UK.
In Germany, food trucks are seen regularly in Leipzig and at Munich airport Smokey Joe’s Würstelflieger http://www.munich-airport.de/en/consumer/shops/a-z/S/smokey/index.jsp serves American-inspired hot dogs from a converted World War II Rosenheimerbomber aeroplane.
In Japan street vendors are a long-established feature in towns and cities, offering traditional food such as baked sweet potatoes, ramen, oden and noodles. But recent additions on Toyko’s streets now include mobile crêperies, Japanese-Hawaiian food trucks and Japanese-Vietnamese Pho vendors.
How can the street food trend work for you?
Aware of this emerging trend, global ingredients company Synergy is launching street food-inspired natural seasoning blends for snack foods. According to a report in FoodNavigator.com, the new range will include Moroccan, Vietnamese and Indonesian dishes, reflecting the rise in popularity of these cuisines particularly associated with street food.
How could your business be inspired by the street food trend? Contact RTS to discover more.