COMMENTARY

Food sourcing for food trucks 101

Nov. 15, 2017
Food sourcing for food trucks 101

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Bobby Brock is director of digital marketing for Fresh Hospitality, a foodservice consultancy.

By Bobby Brock

To create an optimal food sourcing strategy for a food truck, you need to determine the most efficient food storage plan for your truck, track inventory and sales, and team with the most cooperative food suppliers.

A major challenge for any food truck is the lack of storage and cooler space. Keep this in mind when designing your menu and limit the number of ingredients, especially rare or expensive ones, and/or limit the number of menu items themselves.

A streamlined menu will also take fewer tools to prepare food, saving you room for food storage.

When organizing your truck's layout, maximize storage and cooler space without encroaching on the area you'll need to prepare, sell and serve food. You can optimize your storage layout by minimizing and thoughtfully choosing other equipment, like your POS system, so that these items takes up as little room as possible.

Track inventory and sales

Limiting menu items will also make it easier track how much of each ingredient goes into each offering. This is a vital part of maximizing sourcing efficiency, along with knowing how much food you can store and how long it will keep. 

Tracking sales is also critical. This will allow you to determine when to order which product while minimizing product waste and maximizing spending efficiency.

Compare suppliers

There are various suppliers you can source food from, including wholesalers, bulk stores and grocery stores. Weigh the pros and cons of each option and use a combination of suppliers to source exactly what you need at a reasonable price. 

Wholesale suppliers, like Sysco, are the most cost effective. You will likely source most ingredients from a wholesaler. Bi-weekly deliveries should be sufficient to prevent any food shortages. 

If you have unique menu items that require rare ingredients, you may need to source them from a specialty store. When produce is in season, it makes sense to source from local farmers, especially if your food truck is built upon principles like promoting healthy, local and seasonal foods or supporting the local food community. Be ready to make a trip to your grocer at a moment's notice since it is inevitable that you will need an ingredient at a moment's notice.

Preparing for and receiving orders

Food trucks, unlike restaurants, do not have permanent addresses. Therefore, it can be difficult to receive a delivery from certain suppliers. If you do not use a commissary, you will need to work with your supplier and coordinate a time and place where you can regularly have your order delivered or ask if there is an option for pickup.

When your delivery arrives, review the invoice and make sure you've received everything you ordered at the previously disclosed price. If you've properly prepared your food truck's storage space, putting away the order should be easy. 

When it's time for your next order, take inventory to determine what you need. Based on what is left, how long it will last, and other previously discussed metrics, figuring out what needs to be ordered should be fairly easy. 

Eliminate waste and maximize profit

When arranging your sourcing strategy, remember to consider pricing, convenience, delivery options, and above all, quality. If something doesn't taste good, it won't sell. Never skimp on quality to get a good deal.

If you prepare your food truck for optimal storage, research your sourcing options, and are always ready to make a last minute trip to the store, you should be able to develop a viable sourcing strategy for your food truck that will help you eliminate waste and maximize profit.


Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Food & Beverage, Purchasing


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