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

ByDusan Vasic
February 28,2022

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) 

(Food Truck Nation)

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?

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)

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) 

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)

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

(Off the Grid)

(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. 

Frequently Asked Questions
Is the food truck industry growing?

The food truck industry performs with consistent excellence and outdoes the restaurant industry every year. Until 2020, the food truck industry averaged a yearly growth of 7.5%. 

However, COVID-19 stopped the growth in 2020 at 0.4%, and some food trucks had to close down. Still, their flexibility and lack of dependence on indoor dining helped mobile diners fare better during the pandemic.

In terms of growth, food truck trends are expected to make an upward comeback as the economy starts to recover, with predictions of an increase of 3.4% in 2022.

How much is the food truck industry worth?

Market worth estimates for 2022 put the food truck industry value at $1.2 billion, with an expected increase of 3.4%.

What is the most profitable food truck?

Food truck trends show that burgers remain a very popular choice among customers, despite the growing variety of mobile cuisine offerings. Burgers also strike a good balance between cooking costs and selling price, so trucks offering them still see the biggest profits. 

What percentage of food trucks fail?

Even though the food truck market is growing every year, that doesn’t mean that every mobile startup can stand the test of time. 

Similar to traditional restaurants, food truck industry statistics show that around 60% of food trucks go under within three years of opening. The most common causes of shutdowns are bad budget planning, not hiring additional workers, poor customer service, and insufficient advertising.

Sources

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(Fan & Fuel) Worse still, 35% might not buy a product at all after reading just one negative review. According to Zendesk, word of mouth is also extremely powerful: 95% of customers will tell others about a bad experience, and 87% will share good ones.  Unfortunately, another survey shows that 79% of consumers who shared their poor online experience with customer support got ignored. Companies making this mistake should consider hiring a good reputation management service, as it will help improve their sales in the long run. Must-Know Information About Call Center Workers Despite the push toward automatization, live agents are still the pillars of any good customer support team. Here are some stats about the call center workforce. There were approximately 286,696 call center agents employed in the US in 2021. (Zippia) The majority of call centers are located in Texas, or more specifically in Dallas and Houston. The average age of a call center employee is 40 years. Furthermore, 67.2% of all agents are women, while 27.9% are men. 87% of employees in call centers report high stress levels at their job. (Cornell University) Handling customer requests every day is not an easy job. Customer support agents are typically the first line of defense against angry customers, leading to very alarming call center stress statistics. 80% of agents experience angry customers blaming them for things out of their control.  Undefined expectations, lack of incentives, and boredom with mundane, repetitive tasks cause agents to be miserable at work, which, in return, translates into poorer customer experience stats across the board. The average salary of a call center employee is $27,765 per year. (Zippia) Salaries for new agents start at around $20,000 per annum. Those of the 10% top-performing agents can go up to $36,000 or more. The turnover rate for call center agents is over 40% globally. (ICMI) (Mercer) When these call center turnover statistics are compared to the 22% average turnover rate across all industries in the US, it’s easy to see that job satisfaction levels in call centers are troublingly low. Companies need to look into ways of making the job less stressful for their employees and using modern technologies such as AI bots to help facilitate communication with customers. Call Center Technology Trends Good implementation of modern technologies is essential for improving call center statistics and metrics. Let’s check how big of a role software plays in customer support these days.   90% of businesses that use it find live chat software helpful for streamlining call center operations.  (Zippia) According to Zippia’s findings published in December 2021, 29% of all businesses and 61% of those in the B2B sector already use live chat software. 32% of businesses are implementing CRM systems to boost sales and enhance customer relationships. (Zippia) Customer Relationship Management software has an excellent track record of increasing customer engagement. Unfortunately, according to customer service and call center metrics, only a third of businesses make use of it currently. Considering that 31% of customer support teams think that their companies see their work as an expense rather than an opportunity to increase sales, this is not all that surprising. 87% of global organizations that implemented AI did so believing it would give them an advantage over the competition. (Statista) According to Statista, almost 90% of the organizations that implemented AI did so to keep up with the competition, while only 63% did so due to customer demand. Pressure to reduce costs was also a major factor (72%), along with the ability to move into new business spheres (78%). In 2020, 37% of all messages to brand social media accounts were related to customer service issues. (Sprout Social) (Statista) However, most messages (59%) were positive, as customers wished to express their happiness with an excellent experience they’ve had with the brand.  Call center statistics show that in 2020, 75% more customers used  Instagram to message businesses, while Facebook saw a 20% growth in this category. If you are considering implementing social media into customer support options, keep in mind that 18% of customers expect an immediate response; it might be worth investing in social media management tools to help your support team out.
By Vladana Donevski · April 11,2022

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