When the National Restaurant Association (NRA) released its annual “Industry Forecast” earlier this year, it identified a number of consumer trends that were expected to gain momentum in 2011. Given the increasing use of social and mobile technologies, it didn’t come as a surprise that another on-the-go trend would make the cut: food trucks. In fact, when the NRA released additional research focused on food trucks in early September, it found that not only are customers increasingly visiting food trucks, but they also represent a new revenue stream for brick-and-mortar locations.
“Though food trucks are often equated with chefs and entrepreneurs, they also present opportunities for operators of established restaurants to expand their operations and presence, as a majority of consumers say they would visit a food truck run by their favorite restaurant. Mobile foodservice can be a good way to extend an existing restaurant brand beyond the four walls of the establishment,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association.
Specifically, the NRA found that 59 percent of consumers would visit a food truck if their favorite restaurant offered one. This is up from 47 percent from just one year ago.
A number of restaurants with brick-and-mortar locations have already made the dive into the food truck business, such as Jack in the Box. In March the company launched its Munchie Mobile food truck in California. “The mobility of a food truck enables us to serve our guests, even if there’s not a restaurant around,” said Terri Funk Graham, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Jack in the Box Inc. in a press release. “We’ve engineered Jack’s Munchie Mobile with state-of-the art kitchen technologies that enable us to prepare a variety of guest favorites.”