Convenience and the availability of interesting foods help drive food truck usage.
While many industry observers have long debated the impact food trucks will have on traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, a study by The NPD Group finds that consumers are replacing a quick-service restaurant (QSR) visit with a food truck visit.
About half of the consumers participating in NPD's foodservice market research survey said they would have obtained their meal or snack from a fast food restaurant if they had not patronized the food truck. Another 20 percent of respondents said they would have skipped the meal altogether, implying their visit to the food truck was spontaneous or unplanned, according to NPD.
The top reasons consumers gave for using food trucks related to availability of "interesting" foods and convenience, which are the traditional strengths of QSR outlets, according to NPD. Dayparts represent another way in which food trucks compete with QSR outlets since the trucks are primarily used for lunch and snacking, likely due to the specific location and the food/beverage/snack items offered, finds NPD.
While some consumers are regular users, many make purchases from food trucks only occasionally. More than half of those aware of food trucks in their area say they purchase from them once every two to three months or less often. Further, ordinances and permits vary from city to city, with many municipalities placing considerable restrictions on location and food offerings. In certain parts of the country the weather and season also limit food truck availability outside of the spring/summer months.