Food Cart Or Food Truck: Which Small Food Business Is More Profitable ?

Food Cart Or Food Truck, Which Is The More Profitable Small Food Business?

The concept of food trucks and food carts has been gaining popularity lately. These have emerged to be two of the most lucrative small food business formats to venture into by all who are planning to step into the F&B industry for the first time. However, there is persistent confusion or a debate per se, on which format is better. Entrepreneurs often ask themselves, “Is food truck business profitable in India” or “Is a small food cart business profitable?” The food cart vs food truck debate is an endless one!

While food carts and food trucks are both quite similar, there are still some significant differences that need to be considered while deciding which small business format you should put your hands on. 

1. Is Food Cart Business Profitable: Starting A Food Cart Business

A food cart, in clear words, is a mobile kitchen, that is established on the street to facilitate the sales of the street food to people from the local pedestrian. Restaurant food carts are often found in relatively bigger cities and generally serve any variety of food, starting from ice creams to candy floss.
There are two types of food carts:

  • One that allows the vendor to sit or stand inside and serve food through a window.
  • Another type used all of the room inside the cart for storage and to keep the cooking machinery, usually grilling surface, inductions, and the like.

The food cart style is generally determined by the type of food that the food cart owner is planning to serve in the cart.

Find out how to start a Food Cart Business here.

(i) The Benefits Of Starting A Food Cart Business

There are various positive sides to a small food cart that have made this format one of the most desired ones. The main reasons because of which small food carts have become such a favorite are:

  • Excessively Low Investment: The initial cost involved in setting up a small food cart is excessively low. If you are a first-timer in the F&B industry, your main concern will be to shield yourself against all the possibilities of incurring a loss. This concern makes this format so desirable, since the investment is low, even if the food cart incurs a loss, it will not be a significant blow for the owner.
  • Movable: If you have the intention of moving around the city, then a food cart will be very beneficial for you. You can move a food cart by merely pushing it!
  • Build A Great Customer Relationship: With a food cart, you will have the opportunity to build a great relationship with your customers since you will be dealing with them. You will be able to understand their likes and preferences and thus deliver them food rather quickly.

(ii) Downsides Of Starting A Food Cart Business

Having mentioned all the positive sides of owning a restaurant food cart does not, however, mean that there are no negative sides attached to it. If you are planning to start a food cart then you must also know about the various side effects that it comes with:

  • Space Crunch: It is more than obvious that space will be a serious concern in a small food cart. Not only will there be a hygiene issue, since most of the food in the cart will be left in the open, but the person serving the food also will not have a proper shelter exposing the person to the harsh sunlight or such other extreme weather conditions.
  • Transport Will Not Be Possible: Unless your food cart is located near your shelter location, you will need to have some other options to transport your cart from your service location to your shelter location daily. Hence, you may require some form of a trailer to tow your food cart, which then requires additional towing licenses.
  • Menu Limitation: You will be forced to have a limited menu in your food cart. This is simply because there is a problem in storage when it comes to the food cart. You can hardly keep a bulk of raw material in your cart since you cannot estimate the footfall of our customers in your cart. Hence, this limits your scope of innovation when it comes to menu items.

2. Is Food Truck Business Profitable: Starting a Food Truck Business

Having discussed the food cart, we are now diving into the domain of the food truck business.
Food trucks are clean, convenient, and capable of serving a wide variety of mouth-watering street food. You can have fresh food prepared and served to your customers right away. The food truck business is catching up at a great speed due to the mobility factor. 

Find out how to open a Food Truck business here.

(i) The Benefits Of Starting A Food Truck Business

There is no doubt that there are some benefits that are attached to opening a food truck business. These are:

  • Low Investment: The initial investment and the operating cost is less. And you can start a food truck business faster if compared to other restaurant formats. Hence, it makes the food truck an excellent avenue for first-time entrepreneurs to enter the food industry and learn about the food and beverage industry on the go.
  • Variety Of Food Items: Since the food is made and kept in the truck which is an enclosed area, the truck can store and serve a variety of food, while maintaining the hygiene of the food served.
  • Movable: A food truck is a highly mobile vehicle. This gives you the feasibility to shift your food truck from one place to the other with ease. This is something that a food cart cannot offer. Since you can change the location of your service easily, it gives you the opportunity to explore the various markets and increase your scope of garnering profit.

The Downsides to Starting a Food Truck Business

While opening a Food Truck instead of a full-fledged restaurant is, of course, more viable, there are still some downsides. These are:-

  • Not Enough Investment: Since the input of capital in this business is not much, various things cannot be done. For example, bringing in innovations on the menu, buying better equipment, hiring more staff, or getting a better and more efficient food truck. You need to have a proper fund and budget to handle the daily operations and for some unwanted emergency, which might not always be available taking into consideration the budget of the food truck.
  • Creating A Brand: Branding might be one of the most challenging things that a food truck owner might encounter. Since you would be competing with brick and mortar restaurants in market areas, it may get difficult to create brand value and attract customers. Branding for a food truck is also tricky because of its mobile nature, and without branding, it will be difficult for a food truck to scale in its business.
  • Not Selecting the Proper Location: Most of the times food truck owners select the location of its service without doing proper market research. Hence, they fail to attract the expected customer footfall.

There are various instances when the concept of food carts and food trucks has attracted the attention of the media. This is especially true when they have gone out of their way to do something for society, for example, the food truck that was serving free meals to all single mothers and their children got massive media coverage. You must try to engage your food cart or food truck in such social affairs to increase your reputation in the market and help you to attract new customers.  

food cart vs food truck comparison

This comparison will help you to select the format that will ensure that you see the influx of customers and profits at your establishment. It is true that the cost of opening a small food cart is much less than opening a food truck, and you can go for a food cart if you are planning to invest less. However, a food truck, on the other hand, is more credible, unless you are opening a food cart in a high-end shopping complex.

We hope we have given some insights on the food cart vs food truck debate, and now you can go ahead and make a sound decision! 

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Daniel McCarthy is a seasoned restaurant consultant and serves as the Communication Manager at Restroworks, a prominent F&B SaaS company. Drawing from his vast knowledge of leveraging innovative technological solutions, Daniel excels at enhancing restaurant operations and revenue, thereby contributing to the ongoing transformation of the industry.


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