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Food trucks' popularity still climbing

NRA: Mobile eateries present opportunities for brick-and-mortar restaurants, too

Food trucks continue their momentum, according to a new National Restaurant Association survey that indicates that 59 percent of consumers would likely visit one if their favorite restaurant offered it.

That figure was up from 47 percent a year ago.

“Our research shows that in just one year, the number of consumers who say they would be likely to visit a food truck has increased significantly,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s research and knowledge group, said.

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The NRA survey, which was conducted from Aug. 25-27 among 1,004 American adults, also found that:

• Nearly one-fifth (18 percent) saw a food truck in their community this past summer.

• More than one-quarter (28 percent) of those who saw a food truck this summer made a mobile foodservice purchase.

• Regional awareness varied. Consumers living in the West (29 percent) and Northeast (24 percent) were much more likely than those in the South (15 percent) and the Midwest (9 percent) to have seen a food truck in their community this past summer.

“Convenience is a major driver in restaurant growth, and food trucks are certainly a convenient option by essentially bringing the restaurant to the consumer,” Riehle said.

When the NRA asked consumers how they typically found the food truck they visited, 73 percent said they just saw it on the street, 54 percent said they selected it from an area where food trucks typically gather, 39 percent found out from a friend, and 13 percent found it through social media.

“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,” Riehle said. “Mobile foodservice can be a good way to extend an existing restaurant brand beyond the four walls of the establishment.”

Age and family situation also influenced interest in food trucks, the survey found. Adults with children (70 percent) were more likely than those without children (52 percent) to say that they would patronize a food truck if their favorite restaurant offered it.

Younger consumers said they would be likely to visit a food truck offered by a restaurant. The NRA poll found that two-thirds of those ages 18-44 would do so, compared with only 38 percent of those 65 or older.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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