Food trucks can be a great spot to find a new up and coming chef. Wherever you live, you can likely find at least a dozen options for food truck fare. Years ago, food trucks also tended to be a low cost option vs. their brick-n-mortar peers. That said, if you have been to a food truck lately, you have probably noticed how expensive they have become. So why have food trucks become so expensive?
To cut to the chase, there are quite a few reasons why food trucks have become expensive. To begin with, they offer better quality ingredients. To serve this higher costs, the food truck must mark up the price to make a profit. In addition, food trucks get very limited traffic, so they must make up for limited operating hours to make up for volumes.
So if you are thinking like we do, you are thinking that food trucks should actually be less expensive. What are the reasons that food trucks should be less expensive?
Start Up Costs of Food Truck Cost vs. Brick and Mortar
To begin with, a traditional restaurant tends to have higher start up costs than a food truck. Even if the cooking equipment is the same cost, a restaurant has ongoing rental costs, tables and chairs, etc. According to Mobile Cuisine, a high end dining restaurant can cost $500k vs a similar food truck that would cost $50k.
It’s easy to see how you would think that a lower cost structure would lead to lower prices. That said, the big difference between the two is the number of hours that you are serving customers. Most restaurants with traditional physical locations can serve food for multiple hours a day. Many restaurants serve food for a few peak hours around meal time but continue to have traffic all day.
On the other side, food trucks will show up for the peak hours around typically lunch and dinner. They may only see a steady flow of customers for an hour at lunch or dinner. This low operating time makes the food truck want to make up for a lack of volume with high prices.
Food Cost – Food Trucks
Another trend that has led to higher prices at food trucks over the last few years is that food trucks often serve extremely high quality food.
Many food truck operators are foodies, and they are focused on serving great food. Because of that, they tend to buy the best meats, the best sides and the best cheeses. This high quality causes higher prices.
On top of high quality, food trucks also tend to do fairly low volumes. Unlike a traditional restaurant, they likely buy from grocery stores and miss out on direct suppliers that can lower prices. Not only does the supplier impact this, but they are also missing out on volume discounts that many multi-unit restaurant operators enjoy.