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All You Need to Know About UK Food Van Businesses

Food van industry is finally revolutionizing the way Britons eat. Quick, hot, and cheap food on the go is an exciting concept for young and old Brits alike. Booking tables at the restaurant is a thing of the past now. You can get hot food served directly to you almost anywhere in the UK and you don’t even need to visit a restaurant for this.

The crazy food van trend

The UK adopted food vans a little later than Thailand and other Asian countries where they are a part of everyday life. However, this doesn’t mean that vans took time to become popular. As soon as food vans were introduced, people started flocking to get this new food experience and they loved it. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations conducted a survey on this business. Findings suggest that more than 2.5 billion people eat street food each day, globally.

This is not all. People are also actively searching for food vans to eat instead of established restaurants. Since 2014, the online search terms related to food vans have witnessed immense growth. The search for ‘food van’ has increased by 49% while searches for ‘food truck’ have increased by 66%. People are also searching for ‘street food’ and ‘street food van’, whose searches have increased by 83% and 320% respectively. Festivals, fairs and markets are the hot spots for these food trucks with over 7,000 units being sold.

Easier to set up than a restaurant

A food van is easier and cheaper to set up when compared to a restaurant. In the UK, you will need at least 50,000 pounds to start a restaurant business of your own. The costs of licensing, staff, and even recurring monthly expenses may make you pay even more over time. However, with food vans, the costs are drastically reduced.

A new food van that has been converted exactly to your needs will cost about 20,000 to 50,000 pounds. If you do not wish to make elaborate customizations, you can even a large trailer or a new van for 10,000 to 20,000 pounds. A used van, refrigerated vehicle or a used trailer could cost anywhere between 5,000 pounds to 10,000 pounds. If you want to start small, then buy a small used catering trailer for 5,000 pounds. Yes, the initial costs of the food van business set up could be 10% of the restaurant business setup costs.

MercedesVans supplier, Van Monster helps businesses in getting their food van business started. They have even created a checklist for new food business entrepreneurs to follow so that they may create their own profitable vans out of scratch. Here is their amazing and helpful checklist.

  • Buy a van (a used van costs at least 5,000 pounds while a brand new, fully customized van or trailer could cost up to 50,000 pounds)
  • Customize your van according to the food you will be serving. Note that you will have to work with gas equipment which should only be fitted by an experienced engineer.
  • While making electrical fittings, ensure that you get a PAT test certificate.
  • Register your business with HMRC. This will help in filing for taxes.
  • Choose the place where you will be doing business. Apply as a food business with your local authority and get registered.
  • Get a Food Hygiene Rating from the local authority and display the certificate on your van.
  • Get insured- you need employer’s liability and public liability insurance for your food van.
  • Start some online marketing for your business. Get on social media and connect with people in a local area who could be interested in your offerings.
  • Design a great menu and ensure that you always keep it updated. Seasonal offerings should be regularly updated. Chuck off unpopular items from the list at regular intervals. The British Street Food website suggests that Britons love Chinese, Mexican, Indian and Thai dishes. They also love their regular English Breakfasts and pies.
  • Maintain accounts for each sale and purchase. Strong bookkeeping skills are essential for any business.

The Pros and Cons of a food van business

While food vans look like an interesting opportunity to start a profitable business, it comes with its own challenges. While you enjoy low start-up costs and a chance to work outside of the typical 9 to 5 schedule, you also have to navigate your way through unstable working hours and low initial profits. Although you get a chance to enjoy your work and pay a low rent of 30 to 100 pounds per day, you cannot guarantee work and will have to work hard to get the perfect business up and running.

We talked to Alex and Vicky from Newcastle-based Scream for Pizza about their challenges in this industry. They run their own pizza van business out of a Peugeot J7 converted to their specifications. They told us that food vans have given them a fantastic branding and marketing tool to popularize their pizzas.

When asked about the pros and cons of their job, they said,“We do pride ourselves on having quality produce, but having a van also makes you stand out from the crowd. We believe we get more work due to both of these factors. However, people love the van and so will pick this over other options for events and private gigs. The only con is that our van was built in 1978 and it costs more to maintain and repair.”

The North East and the UK love their food vans and there is an interesting and rewarding business opponent to explore. However, when setting up your business, you don’t only have to focus on bringing quality produce, but also on getting the best marketing possible. Your brand has to stand out in the crowd. This helps in attracting attention and bringing more profits your way.

Willing to jump in on the trends? Weigh your pros and cons smartly and then make the perfect plan to make more money and work with more freedom than ever.