Sydney’s food trucks to stay after trial period

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th March 2014

Sydney’s fleet of food trucks will become a permanent fixture after a successful two-year trial period, the City of Sydney Council has announced.

After strong support from Sydneysiders — and enquiries from more than 600 potential operators — the City of Sydney Council has voted to make its food truck program permanent and encourage more food trucks to get on the road.

The City of Sydney will issue permits for up to 50 innovative operators to take to the streets over the next two years, with a food truck design panel being established to assess the quality of applicants’ vehicle designs and menus. More locations across the city will also be made available for the trucks to trade.

Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney Clover Moore said supporting Sydney’s emerging food truck culture was part of the Council’s plan to “create a safe and more diverse late-night economy”.

“The Sydney Food Trucks program is a great example of how innovative ideas can create a brand new industry and transform the experience of dining after dark,” Lord Mayor Moore said. “Not only are the trucks generating new business and creating jobs across the city, they’re also giving Sydneysiders fantastic new late-night dining options that simply didn’t exist a few years ago,” she said.

“Over the two-year trial period, the trucks have been embraced by locals and visitors alike, and we’ve been swamped with enquiries from potential operators keen to set up their own food truck business,” Lord Mayor Moore said. “We’re delighted to commit our long-term support for this exciting new industry, and look forward to seeing even more trucks hit the streets soon,” she said.

History of Sydney’s food trucks

The Sydney Food Trucks trial emerged from the City of Sydney Council’s ‘OPEN Sydney’ consultation program in 2011, when Sydneysiders said they wanted more accessible, affordable and diverse late-night eating options.

Following a rigorous selection process — including a cook-off judged by Sydney’s top food critics — the first truck, Cantina Mobil, started trading in May 2012. The nine trucks now in operation offer everything from yum cha to gourmet vegetarian burgers, and serve an average of 1,700 customers each every month. The trial program has won several awards, including the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide award for innovation and an FBi SMAC Award.

Food truck program successes

The City of Sydney Council said the Sydney Food Trucks app, which launched in October 2012, has been downloaded more than 51,000 times and receives an average of 650 visits each day. Demand for food from the trucks has grown so high that the trucks have joined forces to hold a ‘Food Trucks United’ festival in Belmore Park near Sydney’s Central Station on the first Friday night of every month.

The Council said its staff had briefed more than 20 other councils on the success of the program to date, and how the other councils might start programs in their own area.

Food truck customers say the trucks make an area ‘safer’ at night

A survey of food truck customers conducted in 2013 found that 92 per cent of people thought the trucks made an area feel more welcoming, and 72 per cent thought the trucks increased an area’s safety. More than one-third of people surveyed said they would have eaten at home if not at a food truck, which the City of Sydney Council said showed the program was generating more business.

A loyal food truck following was also revealed by the survey, with trucks specially sought out by 44 per cent of customers. Eighteen per cent said they ate at a food truck at least once a week.

Food trucks in other States

Australian Food News reported in March 2013 that Brisbane was seeking expressions of interest from ‘mobile food facility operators’. Food trucks also operate in Melbourne in Victoria, and a food truck trial was run in Adelaide in 2013.