Driving Success in Your Local Food Scene

Fueled by demand for inexpensive, quick and delicious meals, gourmet food trucks have seen incredible success across the country. Now, chefs are delivering some of the most affordable, delicious, and entertaining food straight to the sidewalks.

Since 2008 – the unofficial beginning of the skyrocketing success – food truck entrepreneurs and chefs alike have used the fall of the economy, growing demand for locally derived food, and popularity of social media outlets to introduce the world with their new culinary offerings.

But it isn’t just the inexpensive meals or the search for the next tasty treat that attracts new customers. A major defining factor is the “localism” of the food truck industry.

What is Localism?

Localism is about building communities that are more healthy and sustainable using regional resources to meet the needs of local communities. Since there is no universally agreed-upon definition for the geographic component of “local” or “regional”, consumers are left to decide for themselves what exactly this means.

While consumers are interested in buying local food, the truth of the matter is they are unlikely to go out of their way to get it. Vendors that can bring product to the potential buyer get a huge leg up on the competition.

Interest in making local food purchases is likely to increase as consumers look for new ways to eat healthier and support their communities. According to Mintel’s 2013 Living Local Report:

  • A majority of consumers show interest in buying local goods, with an emphasis on food. 62% of Mintel respondents say they buy local food whenever they can, compared to 44% of respondents who purchase local non­food products whenever they can.
  • At 48%, fresh produce accounts for the largest share of local food products respondents say they try to buy whenever they can.
  • More than any other reason, respondents say they purchase local goods to give back to the local economy (73%). More than half also say they purchase local items because doing so supports American-made goods and services and gives back to the local community.
  • Convenience is a factor when purchasing local goods. 49% of respondents say they would do more for their local communities if they had easier access to local goods and services.

Tapping Into the Phenomenon

With the food truck industry taking the country by storm and bringing awareness to the local food scene, many small business owners can learn a thing or two about what makes this phenomenon so successful.

  • Think Local First – Is there a product you provide that can be produced locally? Do goods used to produce your product come from a local sustainable source? By focusing on local first, not only will your business be pumping money into the local economy, but you’ll also be doing your part for the environment.
  • Be Social Media Savvy – Food trucks make it all about the “shared experience”, and are becoming increasingly smart with their social media marketing; running campaigns to support particular efforts, deals, or events. Every small business can benefit from a strong, engaging social media presence.
  • Have Fun - Most (if not all) food truck owners are doing something they are passionate about. It shows in the playfulness of the food, the charm of their social campaigns, and the allure of their product. These ideals can be applied to any business.
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