Since food trucks appeared on the restaurant scene their perceivable threat to brick-and-mortar restaurants has been widely debated, and a recent survey conducted by The NPD Group, a leading global information company, finds that consumers replace a quick service restaurant (QSR) visit with a food truck visit. The NPD foodservice market research survey, which addressed the awareness and practice of obtaining foods and beverages from food trucks, asked respondents where they would have obtained their meal or snack if not from the food truck, and about half of the consumers surveyed said they would have ordered from a fast food restaurant. Another 20 percent of respondents said they would have skipped the meal altogether, implying their visit to the food truck was spontaneous or unplanned.
The top reasons consumers gave for using food trucks related to availability of "interesting" foods and convenience, which are the traditional strengths of QSR outlets, according to NPD. Since the top foods typically offered by food trucks are hot sandwiches, Mexican foods, cold sandwiches, and soups, Mexican and sandwich QSR places may view food trucks as more direct competition than other restaurant categories. Dayparts are another way in which food trucks compete with QSR outlets since the trucks are primarily used for lunch and snacking, which is likely due to the specific location and the food/beverage/snack items offered, finds NPD.