When people think of food trucks, junk food such as hot dogs, ice cream, and tacos often come to mind. But these days food trucks are driving a healthy trend and steering people towards local, sustainable, and organic foods. Could food trucks be the secret to helping people keep their New Year’s resolutions to get healthy this year?
Local, sustainable food is great for clients who want to stay healthy and it’s also profitable for food truck owners. However, if you are a food truck owner, you should know there are additional risks involved in serving food from local suppliers.
Top Food Trends
According to the National Restaurant Association’s ‘What’s Hot Culinary Forecast for 2017″, natural ingredients and minimally processed foods will still be best-sellers. New cuts of meat will be in high demand along with authentic ethnic dishes.
Here are the top ten food trends forecasted for 2017:
Top Ten Food Trends of 2017
- New cuts of meat
- Street food-inspired dishes
- Healthful kids’ meals
- House-made charcuterie
- Sustainable seafood
- Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
- House-made condiments
- Authentic ethnic cuisine
- Heirloom fruits and vegetables
- African flavors
Keeping Your Customers Safe
As a food truck owner, capitalizing on trending consumer behavior and imposing quality control measures on your suppliers is smart business. In addition to the above listed trends, your clients may have recently made new resolutions to get healthy this year.
To help your clients make New Year’s resolutions, you can offer healthy alternatives to your traditional menu
items. If you are a hot dog cart owner, for example, offering apple chicken sausage or turkey dogs may get health-conscious customers standing in line. Offer side salads or whole fruit instead of fries and don’t forget to add healthy options for kids.
Pay attention to washing and storage procedures for fresh produce and immediately discard items that are beginning to discolor or are bruised. Make sure you and your employees are well-trained in handling procedures and cooking times for all new menu items. And, finally, make sure to have general and product liability insurance just in case of contamination or food poisoning that could make your customers sick.
Risks Associated With Local, Organic Foods
Local and organic are buzzwords that will have consumers flocking to your food truck this year, but be cautious about your suppliers. While most farmers and local growers are conscientious about food safety, many don’t have the same quality control measures in place that larger agriculture businesses do.
Food safety becomes even more important when you realize that there’s a demand for healthy kid’s meals that are packed with lean proteins, veggies, fruit, and whole grains. Nutritious kids meals came in at #3 on the list of trends. Kid’s may be even more adversely affected than adults if food safety protocols are not met.
Chipotle learned the hard way that locally sourced organic foods have additional risks when compared against large-scale farms that have sophisticated quality control measures in place. They’ve been hit with several food safety crises that have closed some Chipotle restaurants.
In a regulatory disclosure that Chipotle filed in February 2016, they summed up the risks associated with using local, organic foods.
“We have made a significant commitment to serving local or organic produce when seasonally available, and a small portion of our restaurants also serves produce purchased from farmers markets seasonally as well. These produce initiatives may make it more difficult to keep quality consistent, and present additional risk of foodborne illnesses given the greater number of suppliers involved in such as system and the difficulty of imposing our quality assurance programs on all such suppliers.”
Protect Your Food Truck Business With General Liability Insurance
It’s easy to see how many things could adversely affect your food truck business. While your customers may be focused on their waistlines, you are focused on making sure their health doesn’t suffer as a result of the food you prepare.
Even with all of the right safety measures and food handling procedures in place, things can go wrong. Having insurance can help you take care of both your business and your customers if people become ill from the food you’ve served. The Food Liability Insurance Program (FLIP) can help you insure your food truck business. Learn more about food truck insurance from FLIP.
BY AUSTIN DYKSTRA
Austin Dykstra writes about marketing, business, and insurance for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Austin Dykstra has written about everything from Instagram marketing to online reputation management. He is now firmly entrenched in the thrilling world of insurance. You can find Austin on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter, where he’s meekly re-entering the fray after quitting during the 2016 election cycle.