Mobile Food Services

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 7,530 mobile food service firms in the US operate food trucks and carts from which they sell prepared meals, snacks and beverages for immediate consumption to walk-up customers. Mobile food services also contract with individuals and businesses to cater food at events, such as parties, corporate gatherings and festivals.

Industry size & Structure

A typical mobile food service firm operates out of a single location, employs 2-3 workers, and generates over $370,000 annually.

    • The mobile food service industry consists of about 7,530 companies which employ about 22,800 workers and generate about $2.8 billion annually.
    • The industry is highly fragmented with the 50 largest firms accounting for less than 15% of industry revenue.
    • Most companies are small, independent operators - about 83% employ less than 5 workers.
    • Cities with large numbers of food trucks include Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco, Houston, and Miami.
    • Customer industries include individual consumers, event organizers, and businesses seeking mobile catering.
                                Industry Forecast
                                Mobile Food Services Industry Growth
                                Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                Recent Developments

                                May 13, 2023 - Food Truck Industry is Booming
                                • The food truck industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of the US food service sector, the Gitnux blog reports. The industry posted an average annual growth rate of 9.9% between 2018 and 2023, resulting in 36,324 food truck operations in 2023, according to data cited by Gitnux. The US states with the most food trucks are California, Texas and Florida. The industry is diverse with immigrants accounting for more than a third (38%) of food truck owners, while 30% are female, 8% identify as LGBTQ, and 2% are veterans. About half (24%) of food truck chefs are women. More than half (54%) of food truck sales come from consumers aged 18-44, with 47% of millennials report having eaten at a food truck at least once.
                                • Inflation in April was a mixed bag for food truck operators with the price of two major inputs – food and fuel – returning disparate results, according to the latest CPI report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Food prices have remained flat over the past two months, while the gasoline index increased 3% in April following a 4.6% decrease in March, per the BLS. The CPI for food away from home rose 0.4% over the month. Four of the six major grocery store food group indexes decreased in April vs March: The index for fruits and vegetables fell 0.5% percent and the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs declined 0.3% over the month. The dairy and related products index declined 0.7% and the milk index fell 2%. Nonalcoholic beverages fell 0.1%.
                                • Growth of the US mobile food services industry is driving demand for food trucks, according to food truck manufacturer Premier Food Trucks (PFT). Florida-based PFT built 20 custom food trucks last year, making 2022 its busiest year ever, according to a company press release. "We're really excited to share this news with everyone because it shows just how popular our food truck builds continue to be, especially with new entrepreneurs," PFT owner Jordan Schild said in the release. "The food truck industry brings in an estimated $2 billion-plus revenue annually, representing more than 300% growth in just a few years. And that growth is expected to continue, far faster than typical brick-and-mortar restaurants.” The company is expanding its facility from 3,000 to 10,000 sq. ft. to meet demand. To date, PFT has built more than 300 trucks.
                                • For the first time in a year and a half, the annual increase in prices for food away from home exceeded inflation at retail food outlets, Food Service Director (FSD) reported in April. Prices at restaurants, workplace cafeterias and school lunch programs increased 0.6% in March, and 8.8% on an annual basis, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as foodservice inflation remains elevated even as operators report easing prices for labor and food. By comparison, retail food prices declined 0.3% for the month and were up 8.4% year over year. March marked the first time menu price inflation exceeded retail price inflation on an annual basis since September 2021. The drop in grocery store prices could become a pressure point for food service industry sales this year if consumers perceive restaurants as a worse value, according to FSD.
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