30 | Mar | 20

Richard Johnson

Predicting The Future?

We are postponing the heats of the 2020 British Street Food Awards supported by Hellmann’s for now – but we’ll be back bigger than ever at the end of the summer! Covid 19 took us all by surprise and – with the world on lockdown – street food traders are now desperately trying to work out how to survive. Like every other self-employed worker round the globe, they want to know what their government is going to do. And how quickly. But what will the street food world look like after the virus has passed? When the new dawn finally comes, and we can mingle freely, forgetting about social distancing once and for all?

For a start, street food will have to:

1. Diversify
The virus is making every trader think long and hard about every aspect of their business. First up – home delivery options. Traders are batch cooking their menu, and then driving it round to regulars who have ordered on social media. It helps that big outfits like Deliveroo, Just Eats and Uber Eats are (slowly) learning to be more flexible with their demands of street food businesses. When this is all over, the potential to grow that relationship is really exciting…

2. Get Imaginative
The street food industry must NOT stand still. According to the 2018 Mobile Food Trends survey by Off the Grid in the USA, 34% of people surveyed say that having a mobile food business allows them to regularly experiment with new and interesting menu items – but that percentage should be higher. Operators around the world are selling fusion food, bringing together different dishes and ingredients to create a new cuisine. Japanese Hot Dogs, smothered in soy mayo, teriyaki sauce and nori. Korean tacos. Even Viking soul food. Because it’s still relatively cheap to start-up your own street food business, traders are now producing some of the most exciting food in the world. When Covid 19 is history, let’s not go back to the bad old days of boring burgers and sad bad hot dogs….

3. Form More Partnerships
In the US, food truck operators have learnt to develop partnerships. They team up with large companies to cater at launches, movie sets and so on. Factor in the more traditional private events such as weddings, birthdays and private parties and you can see the potential. Another trend migrating from the US is ‘concept testing’. According to the New York Food Truck Association, companies like Wholefoods, Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse have used food trucks as test kitchens to try new food products and serving concepts, and in some cases, without putting their names or logos on the trucks (most likely to get unbiased feedback).

4.Check Out The Food Hall Option
Food halls, the trendier independent version of the old-fashioned food courts, will continue to grow in popularity. They (usually) offer stability and regular income. Although most of them are currently closed. Famous establishments like Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Market Halls in London, La Centrale Food Hall in Miami, Trinity Kitchen in Leeds and Gotham West Food Hall in New York provide a viable business opportunity for traders who don’t have the money – or the will – to open a restaurant. And they’re always out of the rain!

5. Dig The Whole Farm To Fork Thing
Farm to fork isn’t new. But farm to food truck IS. We’re always happy to see serious farmer involvement at the British Street Food Awards. It helps the farming industry, and increases the sustainability of what we do. The fewer hands the food goes through, the fresher it is – and the more sustainable it is for the environment. And that’s what we all want – a truly sustainable industry…

What else could/should we do to help the industry? Get over to our Facebook page and have your say…