20+ Food Truck Industry Statistics: What's Cooking in 2022? (2022)

Food trucks are everywhere: You’re sure to find one on every corner serving busy people on their lunch break or a fleet catering to event attendees.

They’re great places to get authentic grub from all over the world or try out innovative chefs’ unique creations without splurging on a deluxe meal. The modern entrepreneurs with their kitchens on wheels bring experimental cuisine to their customers wherever they may be. Sounds like a great business idea, especially if we take into consideration that 36.6% of adult Americans eat fast food every day.

Key Findings: Food Truck Business Profits and More

  • Starting a food truck business costs about $55,000 on average.
  • Yearly food truck revenue ranges between $250,000 and $500,000.
  • Gathering the required permits and licenses takes 30-plus days.
  • There are over 35,000 active food trucks in the US.
  • More than 40,000 people work in the food truck industry.
  • The average annual food truck industry growth before COVID-19 was 7.5%.
  • The food truck market size in 2022 surpassed 1.2 billion dollars.
  • Over 34% of food truck chefs regularly experiment with their menu.
  • Food truck industry statistics for 2022 predict a yearly growth of 3.4%.

Food Truck Startup Cost

The cost of getting a food truck business rolling is significantly lower than the cost of starting a brick-and-mortar restaurant, which makes it an attractive prospect for aspiring chefs. Of course, some expenses are inevitable: Getting the necessary licenses and permits, insurance for your small business, the right equipment, adequate POS system for your mobile restaurant, and kitchen implements are all things to consider before deciding to buy a food truck. Check out the ballpark estimates for the kinds of food truck profits and costs you might expect:

An investment of less than $100,000 can result in an average food truck revenue of $250,000 to $500,000.

(Food Truck Operator)

The average cost of getting a food truck and all the necessary permits ranges between $50,000 and $60,000.

(Food Truck Nation)

Obtaining the required permits, ongoing legal compliance, and licensing will cost you just over $28,000.

(Food Truck Nation)

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An average of 45 government-mandated procedures needs to be completed to start a food truck business.

(Food Truck Nation)

Completing these procedures and obtaining all the documentation takes 37 days on average.

(Food Truck Nation)

Need a POS system for your food truck?

Food Truck Industry Trends

The food truck industry’s rising popularity has changed the public perception of food trucks as places to get a cheap bite to exciting local - or exotic - food stops. Food trucks are now full-fledged restaurant venues, serving everything from burgers, ice cream, and cupcakes to foreign delicacies. The industry trends reflect this change, showing growth both in truck numbers and revenue.

Of course, COVID-19 initially reduced food truck development. With most people working from home and avoiding large crowds, some of the best prepandemic spots for finding customers, like parking lots near business centers, temporarily became unprofitable. However, this industry does have the advantage of mobility over traditional restaurants and suffered nowhere near as many losses and venue shutdowns. In fact, the food truck industry’s growth kept up its upward trend, allowing people to “dine out” despite pandemic restrictions and social distancing measures.

From 2017 to 2022, the food truck industry grew 13.7%.

(IBISWorld)

As of January of 2022, there were over 35,000 food trucks active in the US.

(IBISWorld)

As of January 2022, the food truck market employs 40,547 workers in the US.

(IBISWorld)

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Employment in the food truck industry has grown 6.5% compared to 2021 and 10.2% on average over the five years between 2017 and 2022.

(IBISWorld)

The US food truck market value in 2022 is 1.2 billion dollars.

(IBISWorld)

A food truck industry analysis by IBISWorld predicts an increase in market size of 3.4% in 2022.

(IBISWorld)

Food Truck Market Engagement and Demographics

Instead of traditional direct mailing marketing tools, food truck entrepreneurs build dedicated websites and utilize social media campaigns and geolocation tools to quickly reach their customers. Another strategy they employ is promoting engagement through connecting with their local audience, organizing events, and spreading the word via social media marketing.

Every truck can create a unique brand, special menus, and serve more affordable food compared to restaurants. This is particularly appealing to the millennial and Gen Z population - another trend apparent in food truck statistics:

Millennials make up the majority of food truck connoisseurs - 47%, and many of them are returning customers.

(Big Think)

People between 18 and 34 are most likely to grab a meal from a food truck, followed by patrons who are 35 to 44 years old.

(Statista)

Over 80% of food truck diners choose to eat there because of the exciting, new, and unique experience.

(Mobile Cuisine)

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Customer satisfaction is what’s fueling the food truck success rate: More than 90% of patrons rate the quality of their experience positively, with 43% calling it excellent and 48% good.

(Mobile Cuisine)

Practically everyone who ate at a food truck once intends to enjoy the mobile restaurant adventure again.

(Mobile Cuisine)

Food truck fans cite convenience, great food at low prices, and short waiting and serving times as the most enjoyable aspects of this type of dining.

(Mobile Cuisine)

The Entrepreneurs Responsible for the Growth in Food Truck Popularity

Food truck industry data shows that innovation, variety, and convenience are the main factors driving the growth of this business. Chefs have to jump through fewer hoops and invest less to enter the market, while the inherent business mobility makes for an agile work environment accessible to a broader population. However, the pressure to innovate is exceptionally high in the food truck market.

Experimenting with new menus is a regular occurrence for 34% of mobile businesses.

(Off the Grid)

Food truck entrepreneurs are an optimistic bunch - 26% of them have a “sky’s the limit” approach to risk-taking.

(Off the Grid)

Only 11% of mobile chefs stated that they don’t experiment at all.

(Off the Grid)

Food truck industry statistics show that immigrants own 30% of mobile restaurants, 30% are owned by women, 8% by the members of the LGBTQ population, and 2% by military veterans.

(Off the Grid)

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31% of entrepreneurs started a food truck business as a concept test for a traditional restaurant.

(Off the Grid)

Staying ahead of the ever-changing hospitality trends is the reason 24% of startup chefs begin by owning a food truck.

(Off the Grid)

The Best Cities for Food Trucks

Even though the food truck industry sales volume is rising overall, individual truck success is greatly dependent on location. City-specific legislature makes it easier for some and much harder for other prospective chefs to start and run their food truck businesses. Places that welcome food trucks often see them become a part of the local culture.

Portland is the best city in the US to own a food truck.

(Food Truck Nation)

California is the state with the highest number of food truck businesses - 753.

(Food Truck Nation)

The most affordable licenses and permits are found in Denver and cost just over $800.

(Food Truck Nation)

Food truck statistics will tell you that Boston is the most challenging city to start this mobile business. Permits and licenses alone cost more than $17,000, and the annual operating cost is $37,904.

(Food Truck Nation)

We hope these statistics have provided you with some valuable insights into the food truck industry and its future. The food truck market is growing and is expected to continue this trend in the years to come. This makes starting a food truck business in 2022 a wise investment. With careful planning and execution, your food truck can be a success.

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FAQs

Why are Millennials most likely to eat at a food truck? ›

Self-identified as the “foodie generation” (Fromm, 2014), 47% of millennials have eaten from food trucks (Coughlin, 2016). The popularity of food trucks in this group is primarily due to their “authentic and brandless” appearance to a generation that thrives on “originality and novelty” (Coughlin, 2016).

How big is the food truck industry in the US? ›

Food Trucks in the US - Market Size 2005–2028
$1.4bnFood Trucks in the US Market Size in 2022
1.6%Food Trucks in the US Market Size Growth in 2022
7.9%Food Trucks in the US Annualized Market Size Growth 2017–2022
1 more row
12 Sept 2022

What are the Top 5 reasons food trucks fail? ›

5 Reasons Food Trucks Fail and How to Avoid Mistakes
  • Cutting Corners on Equipment. The biggest leap from idea to fruition is purchasing your first food truck. ...
  • Not Knowing Their Audience. ...
  • Not Knowing Themselves. ...
  • Not Marketing Their Business. ...
  • Choosing Quality Over Quantity.
10 Dec 2020

What are 3 of the most common issues faced by food truck businesses? ›

The Top 5 Challenges Food Truck Owners Face
  • Permits and Regulations. So, you're excited about your food truck and you can't wait to park your truck and serving customers. ...
  • Location, Location, Location. ...
  • Inventory and Menus. ...
  • Wearing Many Hats. ...
  • An Inefficient Kitchen.
28 Oct 2019

What is the most profitable food to sell? ›

Profitable Food Business Ideas
  • Honey production – 30% average profit margin.
  • Coffee shop – 25% average profit margin.
  • Popcorn business – 22% average profit margin.
  • Custom cakes – 19% average profit margin.
  • Chicken poultry -17% average profit margin.
  • Pizza – 15% average profit margin.
  • Fruit juice – 14% average profit margin.

What are 3 trends in the food truck industry? ›

Trends Shaping The Food Truck Industry
  • Increased Demand for Environmentally Friendly Food. ...
  • Increased Vegan Options and Meat-Plant Blends. ...
  • More Event Partnerships and Promotions. ...
  • More Commercial Restaurants Experimenting with Food Trucks. ...
  • Increased Technology and Social Media. ...
  • More Peanut Butter Alternatives.
1 Oct 2022

What challenges do food truck owners face? ›

Food truck owners also face the same business challenges as other foodservice businesses, such as finding help, managing inventory, having sufficient capital to cover operating costs, maintaining food safety, keeping customers satisfied and recognizing new customer tastes.

What is the future of food trucks? ›

The food truck industry continues to grow, with an estimated annual growth rate of 7.5% from 2015 to 2020. For first-time restaurant owners, food trucks offer the opportunity to experiment, be creative, and potentially see great returns.

Who are the target customers for your food truck? ›

Middle-class millennials are the target market of the billion-dollar food truck industry. According to an IBISWorld Inc. report, 43% of food truck spending each month is made by 25- to 44-year-olds, with an additional 20% coming from those under the age of 25.

What is the success rate of a food truck? ›

The Average Success Rate for Food Trucks. Current statistics, taken from average restaurant figures, suggest 40 percent of food carts are still in business after three years.

How much does a food truck make per day? ›

Maximum daily food truck sales = $2,500. Average daily food truck sales = $1,000.

Where are food trucks most successful? ›

🌮 Food Truck Statistics 🌮
  • Portland, Oregon, is America's best city for food trucks, while Virginia Beach, Virginia, is the worst. ...
  • The top 15 cities have an average of nine food trucks per 100,000 residents. ...
  • Los Angeles has the most food trucks (715), while Virginia Beach has the fewest (28).
17 Aug 2022

How many menu items should a food truck have? ›

A good rule of thumb is that most food trucks can handle five to 12 different menu items at any given time. The fewer the better to keep your quality top notch. Second, you want to make sure your menu is easy to prepare.

Whats a good food truck concept? ›

The most popular food truck cuisine is currently barbecue. However, any food that is easy to produce and sell in a small space can be profitable, including tacos, burgers, sandwiches, cupcakes, and fries.

What is the best size food truck? ›

16′ Foot: This is the most popular food truck size. Very versatile. 18′ Foot: Great size if you plan to have more than two vendors onboard a truck or large menu. 20′ Foot: If you plan on doing a lot of volume at major events and want room to grow this is a great option.

What is the biggest challenge facing the food industry? ›

Food and Beverage Industry Challenges and Trends
S NoF&B Industry Challenges
1.Enforcement of Plastic Ban
2.Stringent Regulatory Landscape
3.The Pervasive Presence of e-Commerce
4.Rise of Veganism

Why do food trucks only take cash? ›

Many businesses in addition to food trucks are hesitant to accept card payments because of the added fees. Payment processors typically charge a certain percentage per transaction. For example, a business might pay 2.5% to the payment processor on any purchase.

What causes food trucks to fail? ›

Most food trucks fail because they don't get the cost of operation under control. Some owners enter the industry expecting food, labor, and the vehicle to be their initial costs. However, other expenses can slowly add up, especially if you do not have an established budget.

What is the most common reason a food business fails? ›

One of the biggest reasons food businesses fail is because they are entering an already saturated market with high levels of competition. Just because a product may be great doesn't guarantee that it will stand out on the shelf, especially against long-established brands.

What are the three major concerns in the food industry? ›

Let's take a look at a few challenges facing the food industry right now.
  • Labor Shortages. Grocery stores have seen an increase in demand lately, and the food industry is dealing with labor shortages across the board. ...
  • Protecting Employees. ...
  • Supply Chain Pressures.

What foods are high in demand? ›

Processed food items such as frozen fruits and vegetables, dairy products, seafood, and meat have high demand across the world.

What is the easiest food product to sell? ›

Easy Food To Sell To Make Money
  • Candy and other confectionery.
  • Cookies, pastries, and other baked goods.
  • Dry herbs, seasonings, and herb mixes.
  • Homemade fresh bread.
  • Hummus and other dips.
  • Jams, jellies, and other preserves.
  • Nuts, coated, and uncoated.
  • Pickles and other pickled vegetables.

What are the 7 key points for trends in food service? ›

Seven Restaurant Trends That Will Define 2022
  • Simplified Menus. ...
  • Health-Conscious Food Will Dominate Menus. ...
  • Green Kitchens and Environmental Concerns. ...
  • Ghost Kitchens. ...
  • Delivery Options. ...
  • Strengthen Online Presence. ...
  • Self-Serve/Grab-and-Go and Use of Automation. ...
  • Watch Out for the Trends: Only Way to Survive.
2 Apr 2022

What foods are trending right now? ›

10 Current “Hot” Restaurant Food Trends in 2022
  • Plant-Based Foods Growing Like Weeds. ...
  • Zero-Waste Cuisine Takes Hold. ...
  • Healthy Foods That Are Good for Your Guts. ...
  • The Demand for Kombucha Set to Rise. ...
  • The Growth of the Superfood Powders Trend. ...
  • “Keto” is One of the Biggest Food Trends. ...
  • Cold Brew Coffee Set to Explode.

How do food trucks attract customers? ›

An effective social media presence can draw in new customers and keep loyalty with your existing ones. An active presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will allow people to know where your truck is each day, what food you serve, and increase the size of your audience.

How can I make my food truck successful? ›

10 Tips for Running a Successful Food Truck Business
  1. Perform Extensive Market Research.
  2. Choose Your Truck Cuisine Wisely.
  3. Make A List Of Necessary Supplies.
  4. Buy The Right Truck.
  5. Incorporate To Protect Your Assets.
  6. Set A Budget and Pursue Financing.
  7. Try Creative Marketing Tactics.
  8. Park Your Truck at High Volume Locations.
1 Feb 2022

What is the best business structure for a food truck? ›

The most common entity choice for food trucks is the limited liability company (LLC). An LLC involves fewer start-up costs than a corporation and also keeps the business owner's personal assets separate from the debts and liabilities of the business.

Are food trucks profitable 2022? ›

Food truck businesses can make between $250,000-$500,000 per year. High-end food trucks (think gourmet menus) based in high-traffic cities can bring in from $20,000 to $50,000 in revenue in a month.

What is the demand for food trucks? ›

The growing inclination of consumers towards gourmet offerings and unique food concepts is projected to propel the demand for food trucks.
...
Report AttributeDetails
Market size value in 2021USD 4.11 billion
Revenue forecast in 2028USD 6.63 billion
Growth rateCAGR of 6.8% from 2021 to 2028
11 more rows

Why do food trucks succeed? ›

This is one of the main reasons why food truck businesses succeed: Food truck owners know everything about the industry. They know what it takes to make it, they know everything about their competitors, they know how to market, they know how to sell and they know the ins and outs of the food truck industry in general.

How much profit should a food truck make? ›

Food Truck Profit Margin Per Month

A restaurant's profit margin is typically between 3%-5%, but some make as little as 0% and others as much as 15%.

What percentage of food truck businesses fail? ›

In the never-ending sea of food trucks that are out there these days, many seem satisfied with fitting in rather than standing out. And while this approach may keep a business afloat in the short term, your truck might end up like the 60 percent that fail within the first three years of business.

What are the trends in food truck sales volume? ›

The food truck industry is growing by an average of 12.1% each year. This was the average annual growth from 2016 to 2021, and the industry is expected to continue this trend. In addition, in 2011, the number of food truck businesses in the U.S. was 8,677, and just ten years later, in 2021, it reached 32,287.

Are food trucks still profitable? ›

Typically, food truck profit margins can vary anywhere from 0% to 15%, with the average mobile business owner pulling in around 7-8%. This shows that mobile fast food is more profitable than a restaurant, but still sits under the US average.

What food sells the most on food truck? ›

Top 20 Food Truck Menus
  • Barbecue.
  • Amped-up Hamburgers.
  • Reinvented Hot dogs.
  • Coffee Trucks.
  • Smoothie / Healthy Drink Trucks.
  • “Grown-up” grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Beef Sliders (Variation on hamburgers.)
  • Cupcakes and desserts.
27 Nov 2019

What is the most popular food truck food? ›

Remember, a fresh spin on a classic dish will do wonders for your food truck business.
  • Barbeque. It's hard to beat well-made barbeque. ...
  • Sliders. ...
  • Ethiopian Food. ...
  • Tacos. ...
  • Pizza. ...
  • Cupcakes. ...
  • Grilled Cheese. ...
  • Lobster Rolls.

Can you get rich owning a food truck? ›

Nationally, food truck owners make between $24,000 and $153,000 per year. Typically, the owner's salary for a food truck is less than 50% of the profit. In a small food truck, your salary might be a higher percent of your profit, relative to how much labor you put into the business.

How successful can a food truck be? ›

With an average revenue stream of $250,000-$500,000 a year, managing a successful mobile kitchen can be a lucrative endeavor! It's important to understand that getting through the first few years and establishing a thriving brand takes some work. How can a food truck owner beat the odds and come out on top?

How much does it cost to run a successful food truck? ›

In general, it costs between $28,000 and $114,000 to get a food truck business up and running, with the average food truck earning around $300,000 per year. Starting your own business is incredibly rewarding, especially if it's a success.

Is a food truck a good investment? ›

Food franchises are among the most profitable, and food trucks are a good investment. Most food truck franchise owners generate close to or over six figures every year.

Are food trucks in high demand? ›

The Food Trucks industry has experienced a boom over the five years to 2022, primarily as a result of the surge in gastronomy in the United States. In fact, the industry has outpaced the broader food service sector during the period.

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