Roll with the food truck generation

August 09, 2011

Supermarkets could raise their prepared foods energy by teaming up with mobile food entrepreneurs.

Too many food trucks to the party are ruining a good thing for consumers who want innovative food on the go without muss or fuss or expensive prices. They don’t offer restaurant experiences, and they fill a middle ground when people lack time for a sit-down meal. Take rent out of the equation, and of course their prices are hard to beat.

Yet their inventiveness is their reason for being. These cooks-marketers have brought exciting foods to the streets. They’ve opened access to the foods they feel passionate about, and they’ve removed intimidation and expense from the experience of consumer trial. With enough dough, some will ladder up to open their own restaurants or food stores.

Their early success has drawn imitators. While brick-and-mortar eateries tolerated some trucks in their area, the numbers of mobile food operators in some markets have grown too great to ignore. So police have to disperse them all when they enforce restrictions. Some operators use Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare to announce their upcoming and current locations so their fan bases can follow. 

If food trucks can’t expand further in their current form, what’s next? 

The Lempert Report urges supermarkets to look into hiring or partnering with these food entrepreneurs. They’d bring an excitement to the retailer brand. They could serve as test markets for foods that could be sold and marketed in the store delis and prepared food sections. Imagine the power of ‘try it here first’ campaigns. As local personalities, they could do spot appearances in the stores and help romance the food. They could help teach retailers how to engage local food fans with social media.

The food truck generation has a multitude of skills to make prepared foods more fun and dynamic in supermarkets.