Since food trucks began appearing on city street corners, their perceivable threat to brick-and-mortar restaurant has been debated. Now, a recent survey conducted by The NPD Group, a global information company, finds that consumers do replace a quick-service restaurant visit with a food truck visit.

The NPD foodservice market research survey, which addressed the awareness and practice of obtaining foods and beverages from food trucks, asked respondents where they would have obtained their meal or snack if not from the food truck, and about half of the consumers surveyed said they would have ordered from a QSR. Another 20 percent of respondents said they would have skipped the meal altogether, implying their visit to the food truck was spontaneous or unplanned.

The top reasons consumers gave for using food trucks related to availability of "interesting" foods and convenience, which are the traditional strengths of QSR outlets, according to NPD.

Since the top foods typically offered by food trucks are hot sandwiches, Mexican foods, cold sandwiches, and soups, Mexican and sandwich QSR places may view food trucks as more direct competition than other restaurant categories. Dayparts are another way in which food trucks compete with QSR outlets since the trucks are primarily used for lunch and snacking, which is likely due to the specific location and the food/beverage/snack items offered, NPD reports.

Although QSRs have more reason than full-service operators to be concerned about the prevalence and location of food trucks, another finding of the survey is that while some consumers are regular users, many make purchases from food trucks only very occasionally. More than half of those aware of food trucks in their area say they purchase from them once every two to three months or less often.

Additionally, ordinances and permits vary from city to city, with many municipalities placing considerable restrictions on location and food offerings. In certain parts of the country, the weather and season also limit food truck availability outside of the spring/summer months.

"For now at least, food trucks need not be viewed as a threat to restaurant demand nationally," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "However, in markets with a developed food truck presence, QSR operators may wish to take note of the benefits food trucks offer, such as different and fresh food, especially as a means to build their snack business and/or protect lunch traffic."

Read more about restaurant trends.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Natasha Wilkins
    hi, I have great question, as I heard any food truck business start up have the person be there at least 10 hours a day 7 days a week, so how can i trust and hire some one else , when this business is cash business, , how could i trust some one that he or she wont steal my money , can you help me i live in la ,c a
  • Natasha Wilkins
    hi, I am trucking to start up the food truck business, in la , ca I heard i have to be there 7 days a week at least 10 hours a day, how could i trust someone else to work with me when this business is cash business, the other person may take the money cash, how cand you trust that or hire someone and what type of contract i can do with the other person for money
  • Lakeisha D
    @NatashaWilkins You could start your business part time by working at night or on the weekends and hiring employees would really depend on what role you would be playing afterwards. For instance, would you be the chef or would you be the person in the window taking orders. Then you can look into getting a POS system that keeps track of what menu items were sold then compare the POS system to the amount of money counted at the end of the day. This method would work really well if you were planning to just by the business and hire employees to run it.
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