Providing EPOS solutions to the hospitality sector for over 20 years

How To Start A Food Truck Business In The UK


Discover how to start a food truck business in the UK with our comprehensive 2024 guide. Find out how much money food trucks make, where to sell, and the costs involved.

Are you thinking about starting a food truck business in the UK? With the rise in popularity of street food and low start-up costs of a food truck, many entrepreneurs are turning to this industry. But before you hit the road, there are some important things to consider.

In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about starting a food truck business in the UK.

Why Start a Food Truck Business?

Low Start-Up Costs and Flexibility

One of the main reasons people choose to start a food truck business is the low start-up costs and flexibility. Compared to opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, a food truck requires significantly less investment.

Growing Popularity of Street Food

With food trucks and pop up marketing growing in the UK, Street food has become increasingly popular. This trend has been driven by the demand for unique and diverse food options, as well as the rise of foodie culture on social media. This makes it a great time to enter the food truck industry and capitalize on the growing demand for street food.

Ability to Test and Refine Your Menu

A food truck also allows you to test and refine your menu before committing to a brick-and-mortar location. You can experiment with different dishes, get feedback from customers, and build a loyal customer base before expanding to a physical restaurant.

How much do food trucks make in the UK?

Before starting food truck business, one of the key questions you may have is how much money you can expect to make. The potential profitability of a food truck can vary depending on various factors such as location, menu, operating costs, marketing efforts, and customer demand. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Location: The location of your food truck can have a significant impact on your earnings. Choose high foot traffic areas, events, festivals, and popular lunchtime spots to attract more customers and generate higher sales.
  • Menu: While some choose to offer popular items like fish and chips, offering a unique and appealing menu can help differentiate your food truck from competitors. Consider incorporating local and seasonal ingredients to create a memorable dining experience.
  • Operating Costs: Food truck businesses generally have lower overhead costs compared to brick-and-mortar restaurants. However, it's crucial to factor in expenses such as food supplies, staff wages (if applicable), permits and licenses, fuel, maintenance, and insurance. Managing your costs effectively is essential to maximize profits.
  • Market Demand: The demand for food trucks has been increasing in the UK due to popularity of street food and the desire for unique culinary experiences. Identifying and targeting your ideal customer base can help you capitalize on this demand and increase your sales potential.
  • Marketing and Branding: Building a strong brand presence and engaging with customers through social media platforms can help generate buzz. Utilize social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to showcase your menu, location, and upcoming events.

While it's difficult to provide an exact figure of how much money food trucks make in the UK, research suggests that well-established and successful food truck businesses can generate annual revenues ranging from £50,000 to £100,000 or more. However, it's important to conduct thorough market research, consider the local competition, and develop a comprehensive business plan to estimate your potential earnings accurately.

How to start a food truck in UK?

Before you start a food truck, there are some legal requirements and permits you need to obtain.

Register Your Business

The first step is to register your business with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You can do this online or by mail, and it's important to do so before you start trading.

Obtain a Food Hygiene Certificate

All food businesses in the UK must have a food hygiene and safety certificate. This ensures that you and your staff have the necessary knowledge and skills to handle food safely. You can obtain this certificate by completing a food hygiene course, which can be done online or in-person.

Get a Street Trading License

To operate a food truck in the UK, you will need a street trading license from your local council. The process and requirements may vary depending on your location, so it's important to check with your local council for specific guidelines.

Consider Insurance

While not a legal requirement, it's highly recommended to have a public liability insurance for food truck business. This can protect you in case of accidents, damage to your truck, or liability claims.

Choosing Your Food Truck and Equipment

Food Truck Options

When it comes to choosing a food truck, you have a few options. You can purchase a new or used food truck for sale, or you can convert a vehicle into a food truck. The latter option may be more cost-effective, but it also requires more time and effort.

Essential Equipment

The equipment you need for your food truck will depend on your menu, but some essential items include a refrigerator, cooking equipment (such as a grill or fryer), and a generator to power your truck. It's important to choose equipment that is durable, efficient, and easy to clean.

How to purchase or rent a food truck?

Purchasing or renting a mobile food truck is an important decision in starting your food truck business. Here are some steps to help you navigate the process:

  • Determine Your Budget: Before you start looking for a food van, it's important to establish your budget. This will help you determine whether purchasing or renting is the right option for you. Consider factors such as the cost of the truck, equipment, licensing, permits, and initial inventory.
  • Research and Explore Options: Take the time to research and explore different food truck options. There are various ways to find food trucks for sale or rent, including online marketplaces, classified ads, food truck builders, and dealership websites.
    Use search phrases like "food truck for sale uk", "buy food truck uk", and "used food truck for sale uk". If you are looking to rent a food truck, then search for "food truck for rent" or "hire a food truck". Look for reputable sellers or rental companies that specialize in food trucks.
  • Consider New or Used Trucks: Decide whether you want to purchase a new or used food truck. New trucks offer the advantage of having the latest features and customization options, but they come with a higher price tag. Used trucks may be more affordable but require thorough inspection to ensure they are in good condition.
  • Determine Truck Size and Features: Assess your business needs to determine the appropriate size and features for your food truck. Consider your menu, equipment requirements, storage space, seating capacity, and layout. This will help you narrow down your options and find a truck that meets your specific needs.
  • Inspect and Test Drive: If you're purchasing a used truck, it's essential to thoroughly inspect the vehicle before making a decision. Check for any mechanical or structural issues, assess the condition of equipment, and ensure it meets health and safety standards. If possible, take the truck for a test drive to evaluate its performance.
  • Financing Options: If purchasing a food truck, explore financing options if necessary. Some food truck manufacturers or dealerships may offer financing options to help you spread out the cost over time. Research various food truck business loans you can obtain. Consider working with a financial institution or consulting with a financial advisor to explore the best financing options for your situation.
  • Rental Agreements: If you're considering renting a food truck, review rental agreements carefully. Pay attention to details such as rental duration, costs, maintenance responsibilities, and any additional terms and conditions. Ensure that the rental agreement aligns with your business needs and budget.
  • Obtain Insurance: Whether you purchase or rent a food truck, it's important to obtain insurance coverage. Food truck insurance can protect you in case of accidents, damage to your truck, or liability claims. Research insurance providers that specialize in food truck insurance and select a policy that suits your needs.
  • Complete Legal Requirements: Once you've acquired a food truck, ensure that you complete all the necessary legal requirements. This may include obtaining the appropriate licenses, permits, certifications, and inspections required by your local authorities. Complying with legal obligations is crucial to operate your food truck business legally and safely.

Remember, purchasing or renting a food truck is a significant investment, so take your time, do thorough research, and weigh your options carefully. Consider seeking advice from experienced food truck owners or industry professionals to help you make informed decisions throughout the process.

Creating Your Menu

Keep It Simple

When it comes to food truck menus, less is often more. With limited space and resources, it's important to keep your menu simple and focused. This will also help with efficiency and speed, which is crucial for a successful food truck business. Use this UK Food Trends 2023 Report to get an insight on what britain like to ear.

Consider Your Target Audience

Think about your target audience and what type of food they would be interested in. Are you targeting busy office workers looking for a quick lunch, or families looking for a fun and unique dining experience? This will help you determine the type of food and pricing that will appeal to your target market.

Incorporate Local and Seasonal Ingredients

Using local and seasonal ingredients not only supports local businesses and reduces your carbon footprint, but it can also add a unique and fresh touch to your menu. Consider incorporating local produce, meats, and other ingredients into your dishes.

Branding Your Food Truck

Choose a Memorable Name

Your food truck's name is an important part of your branding. It should be memorable, easy to pronounce, and reflect your brand's personality and cuisine.

Design Eye-Catching Graphics

Your food truck's graphics and design are crucial for attracting customers and standing out in a crowded market. Consider hiring a professional designer to create eye-catching graphics that reflect your brand and menu.

Utilize Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your food truck and engaging with customers. Create a strong presence on platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook, and use them to showcase your menu, location, and upcoming events.

How much money do I need to start a food truck?

The amount of money you need to start a food truck business can vary depending on several factors, including the size and condition of the truck, equipment costs, licensing and permits, initial inventory, marketing expenses, and working capital. While it's challenging to provide an exact figure, I can give you a general idea of the costs involved:

  • Food Truck: The cost of a food truck can range from £20,000 to £100,000 or more, depending on whether you buy a new or used truck and the size and condition of the vehicle. You might also consider leasing or financing options if purchasing a truck outright is not feasible for you.
  • Equipment: Essential equipment for your mobile kitchen may include cooking appliances, refrigeration units, storage areas, counters, and a generator. The costs for equipment can vary significantly based on your menu and the size of your truck. On average, you can expect to spend around £5,000 to £20,000 on equipment.
  • Licensing and Permits: Obtaining the necessary street trading licence and permits is crucial to comply with local regulations. Costs associated with licenses and permits can vary depending on your location, but you should budget for expenses such as health permits, business licenses, and parking permits. These costs typically range from £500 to £2,000.
  • Initial Inventory: You'll need to purchase the initial inventory of ingredients and supplies to start operating your food truck. The cost of inventory will depend on your menu, but you should budget for several weeks' worth of supplies to begin with. On average, this can range from £1,000 to £5,000.
  • Marketing Expenses: Promoting your food truck is essential to attract customers. Allocate a portion of your budget for marketing expenses, which may include the design and printing of menus, signage, branded merchandise, and online marketing efforts. Depending on your strategies, marketing expenses can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds.
  • Working Capital: It's important to have enough working capital and cash flow to cover your expenses until your food truck business becomes profitable. This includes costs such as fuel, insurance, employee wages (if applicable), and maintenance. Plan to have at least three to six months' worth of working capital to sustain your business during the initial phase.

While these are some general cost estimates, the actual amount you'll need can vary based on your specific circumstances and goals. It's recommended to create a comprehensive business plan and conduct thorough research to estimate your individual startup costs accurately. Additionally, consider consulting with a financial advisor or business mentor to ensure you have a realistic budget in place.

Where can I sell from my food truck in the UK?

Finding the right location is key to the success of your street food business. Consider areas with high foot traffic, such as busy streets, office parks, or popular events and festivals. You can also partner with local businesses or events to set up your food truck on their premises.

Finding the right locations to sell from your food truck is crucial for the success of your business in the UK. Here are some tips to help you find the best spots to park your food truck and build a customer base:

  • Scout Out Locations: Start by researching and scouting out potential locations where you can park your food truck. Look for areas with high foot traffic, such as busy streets, office parks, tourist attractions, and popular events or festivals. Consider the demographics of the area and whether your target audience is likely to be present.
  • Food Truck Parks and Markets: Food truck parks and food markets have become increasingly popular in the UK. These designated areas attract a large number of customers interested in diverse food options. Research and reach out to food truck parks and markets in your area to see if they have any available spaces for your food truck. Participating in these events can provide you with high visibility and a built-in customer base.
  • Partner with Local Businesses: Consider partnering with local small businesses that have limited food options or do not have on-site cafeterias. Contact nearby offices, industrial parks, or universities to inquire about the possibility of setting up your food truck on their premises. Collaborations like this can be mutually beneficial, providing you with a steady stream of customers and offering convenience to employees or students.
  • Events and Festivals: Food trucks are a popular attraction at events and festivals in the UK. Research upcoming events in your area and find out if they allow food trucks to participate. This could include music festivals, sports events, cultural fairs, or local celebrations. Food trucks can often secure spots in designated areas or food sections of these events to reach a larger audience.
  • Street Trading: Street trading is another option to consider. Check the regulations and requirements for street trading in your local area. Some cities have designated zones where food trucks are allowed, while others may require permits or licenses. Collaborate with local authorities and ensure that you comply with all necessary regulations to operate legally and safely.
  • Online Platforms: Utilize online platforms such as social media and food truck directories to promote your location and attract customers. Create a strong social media presence and regularly update your followers with your location and menu. Encourage customers to leave reviews and recommendations to increase your visibility and attract new customers. Read our guide on "How A Restaurant Can Maintain A Successful Social Media Presence" to learn more.

Adapt and adjust your strategy based on the response and feedback you receive from your customers. Building a customer base takes time and effort, so be patient and stay dedicated to providing quality food and service. With the right location and consistent customer engagement, your food truck business in the UK can thrive.

Engage with Customers

Building a loyal customer base is crucial for the long-term success of your food truck business. Engage with your customers by serving food that is unique, responding to reviews and feedback, and creating a memorable and enjoyable experience for them.

The Bottom Line

Starting a food truck business in the UK can be a rewarding and profitable venture. By following the legal requirements, choosing the right equipment and menu, and building a strong brand and customer base, you can set yourself up for success in this growing industry. So, what are you waiting for? Get your food truck on the road and start serving up delicious meals to hungry customers!

For almost 20 years, 3S POS has offered one of the most flexible EPOS systems to international brands such as Caffe Concerto, Maroush, Comptoir Libanais, Pepe’s Piri Piri, GDK and thousands more delighted customers.

If you are looking for a POS system for your food truck business, book a free demo with our sales team.

Let’s talk

Fill out the form below to set up a call with 3S POS
Please enter your name
Please enter your name
Please enter your name
Please enter your name
Please enter your name
Please enter your name
By submitting this form you agree to our Privacy Policy