What if food trucks sold fresh produce instead of hotdogs? Traveling vendors can set-up shop in different neighborhoods on specific days in order to provide fresh food to locals. By providing mobile service, particularly to under-served urban neighborhoods, many different groups benefit. Because these trucks travel to different neighborhoods each day, they can also share new ideas and improve the scalability of the project.
Organizing market days will require the cooperation of several major stakeholders. Weaving a network of partners will engage many groups and help scale the project to reach even more communities. See exhibit 1 for complete stakeholder matrix.
1) Local governments – Enlisting the help of local governments and leaders is essential to identifying and serving low-income areas. Local governments must be willing to provide low-cost permit incentives to attract entrepreneurs.
2) Businesses – Many businesses are unwilling to invest in low-income areas for several reasons. Permit cost reductions alone will not attract new business. Mitigating risk due to crime and profit loss is crucial. What can attract new business in the first place is the understanding that low-income areas still represent a large revenue and profit pool. By promoting mobile market days, business owners reduce fixed costs and lower break-even sales requirements. Market days also allow business owners to better align supply with demand needs with the effect of reducing waste (and increasing profits).
3) Local residents – The biggest issue facing residents in low-income neighborhoods is accessing fresh and healthy produce. By providing scheduled market days residents can plan to purchase produce on a weekly basis. Not only will residents have access to healthier alternatives they can also buy on a consistent basis.
(Add-on) Additionally, business workshops can be offered to help community members build businesses. As the inaugural group progresses they too become trainers and leaders to build opportunities for other community members.
4) Financing organizations - Whether from bank or micro-financing firm, obtaining capital is imperative in ensuring success. Focusing on community residents will allow for sustainable growth. Again, these communities are untapped market segments if approached responsibly, can be developed into highly viable revenue pools.
5) Educators - This group of stakeholders can also be involved in providing education about food to residents. Whether nutrition advise or recipe ideas, this is yet another piece that can ensure long-term success. Easy and quick food does not always have to be unhealthy. Residents need the opportunity to learn how to prepare them.
6) Farmers/suppliers - If farmers are able to serve local urban neighborhoods they can reduce transportation costs. Urban residents benefit by having access to healthier foods.
Have you wondered what it would cost to actually start a produce food truck? I certainly have. Here's an interesting article that covers some of the costs of starting a "traditional" food truck business.
In the mean time I will attempt to do a financial analysis as to the actual start-up costs. Stay tuned!
I spoke to a few of my favorite food truck owners in my neighborhood. I set up a quick outline of the costs associated with starting up a business like this. It is attached as an image above. I look forward to some feedback on other costs that should be consider in making something like this happen. Please note that the costs used for insurance, permits, etc. represent a yearly cost. The idea is that although revenue will be generated throughout the year it is good to have at least a year's worth of cash flow in the bank to be safe.