The nation’s food trucks serve up trendy dishes that are portable, customizable, innovative and hot – to say the least. Just hearing the descriptions will make your mouth water with anticipation. The best part of this new industry is that each menu is unique and full of flavor. However, with that said, there are hot, trending menu items that are sweeping the nation, and beating out competitive food categories.
According to research compiled by Datassential, sandwiches ranked number one as most listed on food trailer menus in the entrée category, followed closely by Mexican items. The close-second, Mexican food, is easy to understand when you look closely at all of the trucks that serve “fusion” foods, which combine Mexican entrees (such as tacos and nachos) with other cuisine types, including Korean and Caribbean. The Kogi BBQ catering truck serves as a perfect example for this type of food, in that its famous dishes include some variation of Korean barbeque tacos.
The next top-listed entrees included burgers, hot dogs, and sausages, which highlight the importance of the amount of “food portability” that trucks offer. In addition, fries, condiments, and vegetables topped the appetizers/sides list.
What does this mean, though? Clearly, just because the aforementioned items are the most listed items on food truck menus does not mean that these food items are category killers. Even if a truck doesn’t serve up any of these items, it’s highly probable that the mobile food stand will do well. Due to the highly competitive nature of this industry, food trailer operators must think about every item that they list on their menu boards. If the item is not doing well, it’s not only taking up space, but it is also reducing overall profitability.
So, with such fierce competition, it’s necessary to ensure that if your catering truck serves any of the top trending items mentioned above, you must strive even harder to differentiate each component of these dishes so that these items standout. The versatility of the components that you use to create your meals is key to a successful menu – especially if your truck’s menu can be simplified to basic items like ‘burgers and fries.’
Consider making condiments an essential part of your menu rather than as an afterthought. Mixing and matching flavors and ingredients will work to your advantage, especially if you can create a combination that “wows” your customers, tastes great on most of your menu items, is only used and owned by your catering truck company, and that you can package and sell in addition to your menu items. Condiments that are floating around the food trailer industry today include peach-mint sauce, pineapple-poblano salsa, and duck fat-garlic (added to fries).
Don’t be afraid to use sophisticated ingredients. Your customers will thank you for offering them something different and fun. Find tastes and flavors that are hard to find in typical restaurant chains. These points of difference will keep your food truck at the forefront of the industry!