Whether being a lifestyle choice or due to health reasons, an increasing number of people are becoming more discerning when it comes to the food they buy and eat. Being in the front-end of the food economy, consumer trends toward healthier options can have a dramatic effect to the food truck industry. It is essential for mobile food vendors to ask how they can react or leverage their business to cater to the changing needs of their customers.veggie burger

Rising Health Consciousness
Consumers are embracing healthier options, particularly the younger generations. According to a recent report by the Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Survey, 41% of consumers under age 20 (Generation Z) are willing to pay more for healthier products compared to 32% of millennials (born early 1980 to early 2000’s) and 21% of baby boomers. In addition, the number of vegetarians and vegans are also on the rise. According to the 2013 Public Policy Polling Survey, 13% of Americans identify themselves are either vegetarian (6%) or vegan (7%). This is a bit of a leap from the 2012 Gallup poll (5% vegetarian and 2% vegan).

Higher Profit Margins
Though some may find it challenging and even intimidating to integrate healthier options into the food truck menu, vendors may find that vegetarian options can give high margins and also added revenue streams. Because vegetarian dishes can be made using lower cost ingredients without compromising quality and taste, one can price their vegetarian dishes competitively. For example, substituting crumbled tofu for cottage cheese or ricotta cheese in lasagna and similar dishes can lower the cost. Another example is eliminating meat in preparing pasta sauce.

Many people also do not mind to pay more for healthier options because they look at it as an investment on their health. Instead of paying for medication or treatment due to a bad diet in the future, consumers prefer to pay for healthier food today.

VegetariansVEGGIES
In reaction to the increasing number of consumers who want healthier food options, a growing number of food trucks in larger urban areas are becoming vegan-friendly and had become very popular. Also, the number of vegetarian products in groceries are also increasing, from the number of brands of soy and almond milk to meat replacements like tempeh and tofu.

Check out PETA’s list of top vegan-friendly food trucks and see how they manage to make it work:
http://www.peta.org/features/petas-top-five-vegan-friendly-food-trucks/

If you are still unsure whether have vegetarian option in your food truck menu is a right choice, here are some pros and cons that may help you decide.

Pros:
Attracts curious and health conscious customers
Higher profit margins
Associated advocacy with vegetarianism (compassion to animals, good ethics, environmental awareness, etc.)
Market expansion or diversification
Issues connected to meat or animal-sourced products (rising prices, diseases, contamination, etc.)
Business differentiation

Cons:
Some customers may get turned off with vegetarian food (thinking that is may not taste good)
Researching, experimenting, and testing vegetarian dishes requires time, effort, and resources
Certain ingredients may not be readily available

Summary:

Vegetarians are on the rise. Over time, more and more will show up at your mobile food business. These could become some of your most loyal customers – we strongly suggest you have more than one vegetarian option (even if you are a BBQ truck).