Australia doesn’t really have a street food culture, but it really wants one. Fortunately, Richard Florida has outlined the secrets of food truck location in his recent blog for City Lab. Florida derives a number of interesting insights from this unique study; however, in the context of Perth’s food truck frenzy, two stand out for me.
When it comes to location, variety matters a lot. Variety of location is the key factor in the economic success of food trucks. In Perth, operating at a variety of locations may involve obtaining and maintaining permits and approvals with numerous councils. This severely limits the geography of our food truck businesses and in turn their viability.
Food trucks cause households to spend more money on eating out. This is huge, given the protests from brick-and-mortar businesses that these new competitors have an unfair advantage which is affecting their viability. Street food, however fancy, is most likely a substitute to home cooking rather than dinner in a restaurant. This evidence runs contrary to many local policies which prohibit food trucks from operating within a given radius of their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
If Australian street food is going to be more than just a flash in the pan, we need an innovative new approvals system to support it.
Big Hairy Prediction: More street food options will emerge in the inner urban employment centres, where the local governments have quickly embraced and streamlined the approvals process. While other local governments will experiment with street food options, street food will likely only prove sustainable in these locations for festivals and events.
For more information on our big hairy predictions follow the link.