Mobile Cuisine has identified the top trends for 2012 that we predict will make a substantial impact on the continued growth of the mobile food industry across the United States. We have listed these trends based on their impact on consumers and industry players, considering consumer value and their ability to resonate within the market.
“The mobile food industry is no longer the arena of so-called hipsters or large urban cities such as New York and Los Angeles,” said Richard Myrick, Editor-in-Chief at Mobile Cuisine. “The increased media coverage of the industry has helped it spread its wings into various markets around the country and the population at large is asking for more. The only people who seem to have a problem with the rapid growth of food trucks are local restaurant owners or developers who have restaurants as tenants. These groups and individuals are using a false set of premises to argue that foods trucks will decimate their businesses. The problem as I see it is that this new take on fast casual dining may force some restaurant owners into changing the business plans they have relied on for the last decade, and for many of them they are fearful of this change.”
Consumer interest in the mobile food industry and the eager participation of some municipalities continues to grow. “The industry was born during our current recession, but until things turn around, I believe that not only is this not a fad, it’s a trend that is showing no signs of fading. It is an industry that will continue to morph as more inventive entrepreneurs enter the market,” Myrick said.
The top mobile food industry trends in 2012 will include:
The number of organizations such as the Food Truck Franchise Group which assist prospective food truck entrepreneurs enter the market will grow. These companies give individuals who may not have formal culinary or business education a means to enter the industry without needing to spend the time or money to produce solid concepts or detailed menus and even help in their franchisees to gain financial backing to purchase their food truck.
Technology firms continue to expand the ways in which consumers are able to purchase merchandise, including food. The technology/social media friendly mobile food industry will use these applications to assist them in speeding up the time it takes for a customer to order their food and then pay for it, thus giving these vendors the opportunity to sell more of their product in less time.
This may not new to the industry however with the continued growth in the number of food trucks (i.e. moving billboards) traversing the streets of the country, the amount of Fortune 500 companies that approach food truck owners to rent a portion of their truck to tap into their customer base will increase. The demographics of the customers that frequent food trucks will provide these companies a new way to supplement their local and national advertising campaigns.
Less Salt, More Flavor:
Demands for healthier foods will continue to grow and food truck owners will manipulate their menus to serve these requests. A large number of food trucks are already participating in the Slow Food and Meatless Monday programs for their customers. With the spread of these programs more and more customers are becoming interested in healthy yet delicious food. This will sway many of the hold outs to expand their menus.
Cities around the country are looking for ways to shore up vacant restaurant storefronts. One way they are able to refresh their areas are through the use of food truck operators setting up temporary restaurants to bring in new culinary ideas into their market. Providing raw space for “pop up” restaurants or food experiences will help them avoid stagnation and boredom for their citizens as their quest for new offerings can continue without a loss of revenue.
Businesses will create a greater perceived value by co-marketing with food trucks that complement their services. An example of this might include, “Bring your receipt from Jim’s Cupcake Truck and receive 10% off your movie ticket.” Local businesses will partner up more often with food trucks next year to create a greater perceived value for their customer base. These alliances will also be a powerful way for customers to make the most of every dollar they spend.
Molecular Gastronomy: As the mobile food industry grows, chefs will be spending more time developing menus that differentiate themselves with their competition. To do this a larger number of food trucks will incorporate molecular gastronomy into their bag of tricks. This will allow them to put new spin on old recipes to attract new customers while still providing their old customers with the flavors they crave.
In 2012, expect to see more Peruvian, Scandinavian and Native American food trucks hit the road.
Foods and techniques you will see used on more food trucks in 2012 will include:
Breakfast for dinner: Look for more breakfast concept trucks to roll out in 2012.
Food in a cone: Look for designer cones to replace bread as a food delivery plaform.
Pie on a stick: Both savory and sweet variations.
Vegetables: Ghost peppers and potatoes.
Grains: Whole grains and quinoa.
Meats: Tongue (both lamb and beef), bone marrow and gizzards will make their way to more food truck menus.
Fermenting or Pickling: More variety of fruits and vegetables will be used by food truck chefs to brighten up their menu items both visually and with taste.