Food truck biz picking up speed

Meals on wheels: Crowds patronising the many food trucks in Bandar Tun Razak. — SHAARI CHEMAT/The Star

PETALING JAYA: With shop rental prices going through the roof, some business owners have decided to forgo the four walls and venture into the “meals on wheels” business.Malaysian Food Truck Association chairman Datuk Mohamad Zaini Md Taha said a second-hand truck head with a built-in kitchen would cost around RM30,000, less than one-third the RM100,000 initial cost of starting business in a shoplot.

“When you rent a shop for around RM4,000 to RM6,000, the costs don’t stop there – there are renovation, electrical, tableware and other costs.

“But when you buy a second-hand truck head, under certain financing (schemes), it would cost about RM500 per month.

“Shops also require more manpower compared with food trucks, which can be operated by just one or two people,” he said in an interview.

Mohamad Zaini said sales could reach up to RM3,000 a day, depending on the menu and the location, and you can always drive to an area with more customer traffic.

“With a food truck, the business can go anywhere. If there are no customers at one location, the food truck can always move to a more popular place to generate business.

“Sales each day are usually between RM800 and RM1,000 at popular venues, but some have also reached RM2,000 to RM3,000,” he said.

Despite the growing industry, Mohamad Zaini said local authorities had yet to have specific licensing for food truck businesses.

“I implore local authorities to provide us with a licence specifically for food trucks because now, we are under the mobile business licence, which does not suit us,” he said, adding that a food truck might remain in one place.

“We hope they can provide us with an affordable food truck business licence,” he said.

He also urged local authorities to gazette more locations for food trucks to conduct their business as now there were fewer than 10 locations in most states.

“Some of the gazetted locations are not hotspots with many customers. If there are more locations, then we can move around within the same zone. We don’t want to disturb traffic and take up parking spaces, so we really hope that more locations can be gazetted,” he said.

Johor Darul Takzim Mobile Truck Entrepreneur Association committee member Fawzee Romzi said due to its low rent, food trucks were also a start-up platform for budding young entrepreneurs before they go on to rent or own their own restaurants.

“There are a few food truck owners who are now able to own or rent a restaurant after two or three years in the business. They usually earn around RM500 on a weekday and double the amount on a weekend,” he added.

Current hotspots for food trucks include Tapak Urban Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur; Tapak Urban Petaling Jaya; DrawBridge Kuala Terengganu; and Jobox Plaza Angsana and Tapak Food Truck Tebrau in Johor Baru.

Kuala Lumpur Food Truck Entrepreneur Association president Muhammad Azlan Abas said entrepreneurs were attracted by the flexibility and low start-up capital of the industry.

“The start-up capital is low and they can also opt to rent trucks for around RM1,500 to RM2,500 monthly, depending on the design and facilities. If the location is not suitable, then they can try elsewhere. It’s the flexibility it provides to owners and accessibility for the target market that makes it appealing,” he said.

He added that food trucks had been receiving good support from the public as they were bringing customers into premises that provide cleaner surroundings and showcase a healthier image of street food sellers, in line with the Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s Transformational Programme for Hawkers.

Muhammad Azlan also said currently, there were around 200 pitstops around the capital city that his association was handling and which could accommodate between three and 10 food trucks.

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