Food trucks are gaining traction in Michigan

Mobile food businesses are an expanding outlet to find locally-prepared food. Experience the trend for yourself by visiting a fall food truck rally at Detroit Eastern Market on Oct. 30.

Food trucks are gaining traction in Michigan. Photo credit: Elvert Barnes
Food trucks are gaining traction in Michigan. Photo credit: Elvert Barnes

As the outdoor growing season comes to a close and seasonal farmer’s market customers look for a venue to find locally prepared food in an outdoor community setting, they may have to look no further than Twitter. Food trucks are on the rise in Michigan, which echoes a nationwide trend of these small, mobile food businesses increasing in number. Since these businesses may change locations many times per day, food truck owners will often update their whereabouts via Twitter, Facebook or their website. Check out some food trucks local to southeast Michigan at these handles: @elGuapoGrill, @MarksCartsA2 and @TravelBurger. Despite our state’s potentially extreme winter weather, many food trucks stay open year round and appreciate support through our colder months.

Food trucks may not seem like a large piece of our food economy, but according to a recent report, food trucks currently bring in $650 million every year, nationwide. This amount is expected to increase, so much so that food truck revenue is projected to account for $2.7 billion over the next five years. Despite this growth, the food truck business has some unique challenges.

In southeast Michigan, one community action project is working to improve the licensing procedures and policy related to running a mobile food business in the city of Detroit. This project comes out of FoodLab Detroit, a nonprofit organization devoted to providing resources, support and a strong network of small food businesses in the region. In addition, FoodLab offers a food truck licensing guide as a resource for new mobile business owners. This resource would be useful to anyone in Michigan, and particularly helpful for those located in the southeast region. The MSU Product Center also offers services to address issues surrounding regulations and licenses, as well as assistance with concept definition, business planning, business development, marketing, branding and market research.

In Michigan, food trucks are gaining traction through a variety of means. A popular way to highlight these businesses are community sponsored food truck rallies, which are often hosted in conjunction with other community events. These gatherings host multiple trucks and usually feature various types of cuisine. Some farmers markets will also host one or more food trucks in conjunction with market day. If you have not had the chance to experience a food truck rally, there may be one in your area organized for the late fall. The Oct. 30 rally at Detroit Eastern Market is one example.

There are many online listings of food trucks in Michigan, but the best way to find a food truck in your area may be to search online, or ask your neighbors! Also, consider contacting your local Michigan State University Extension office, which provides support to local food businesses and customers throughout the state.

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes

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