Starting a food truck: here is your checklist
- Gerdine Annaars
- The basis
- 6 May 2019
- Edited 25 Sept 2023
- 4 min
Looking to start your own food truck? You will need to make decisions about costs of purchasing and interior design, permits and HACCP, and other rules. What do you need to look out for when starting your own food truck?
- What is a food truck?
- How much does a food truck cost?
- Earning money with your food truck
- Permits for food trucks
- What type of driving licence do you need?
- Safety and insurance
- General information for starting businesses
Food trucks – also known as rolling kitchens or food cars – are a type of mobile kitchen. Food trucks sell specific types of food and beverages, ranging from chips, hamburgers, pizzas, and gourmet sandwiches to healthy organic snacks, vegetarian dishes, and fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Food trucks are extremely popular; they are becoming increasingly common in all kinds of locations. The number of food trucks in the Netherlands has doubled since 2017.
You may encounter some words you do not understand in this article. This glossary tells you what they mean.
The purchase costs of a food truck may vary widely, depending on a variety of factors, including whether you buy a new or a used food truck.
Six years ago, Arjan de Hoon launched ToetToetfood, an online platform for food trucks aimed at the business market. “You can choose a fully tricked-out commercial vehicle or order a relatively inexpensive polyester snack cart to attach to your car. But you should think carefully about the quality, and what image you would like to project with your food truck.”
In addition to the purchase costs of the truck itself, you will be faced with the following expenses:
- Maintenance and inspection
- Electrical facilities, gas, and water
- Mobile POS terminal
In order to make an inventory of your fixed expenses and variable expenses, we recommend writing a financial plan to see if your plans are viable. If you require a loan, financiers will ask you not only for a financial plan, but also for a business plan. You should therefore make sure that you have written both.
Tip: You also have the option to rent a food truck – this is a good way to test the waters and see whether your product appeals to the public and whether the day-to-day business of running your own food truck suits you. You will pay a daily rate, plus cleaning costs and a mileage allowance.
There are 3 ways to earn money with your own food truck:
- Participation in a festival. You will be paid by the organisation. Festivalgoers might buy coins, for example, which the organisation then settles with you. In addition, you must usually pay a percentage of your sales to the organisation.
- Selling directly to consumers: cash or POS terminal (debit card). If you are using a cash register, you must make sure it complies with the quality mark for cashier (Belastingdienst, in Dutch).
- Being contracted by a client. In this case, you can agree on a fixed price or bill your client based on actual costs.
Which permits you need depends on what you plan to do exactly. Since the rules may vary depending on the city or town where you are based, you should contact your local council to ask what rules apply to your specific situation. Some items that may be relevant to your situation:
Permit for mobile tradeA standplaatsvergunning (mobile food-vending unit allows you to park your food truck on a public road or site and sell your products.
HygieneDepending on what you are selling, you will be required to follow the rules of the Netherlands Authority for Food and Consumer Product Safety NVWA, including hygiene and food (in Dutch), such as the hygiene code for the hospitality industry (HACCP).
Buma/StemraIf you plan to play music in your food truck, you will need to deal with music rights. Ask (in Dutch) about the costs involved.
Event permitIf you are organising a festival, you will be required to apply for an event permit. We distinguish between small, medium-sized, and large events, with different rules and costs applying for each type of event. Contact the relevant local council to check what the procedure involves.
If you intend to sell beer, wine, port, or sherry at the event, you will need an exemption from the Alcohol and Hospitality Act; this exemption is granted by the local council. It is valid for a consecutive period of a maximum of 12 days.
For annual events, you only need to apply for an exemption once.
Your employees represent your business, so be sure to hire passionate, hard-working people who love what they do. Uniforms or similar attire ensure a professional image and enhance the experience you are looking to create.
Employees aged 18 and up are permitted to independently serve and sell to people aged 18 and older. Do make sure that they have a supervisor who is at least 21 years old. This person must hold SVH Diploma Sociale Hygiëne (Diploma in Social Hygiene, in or certificate of competence in order to register with the Register Sociale Hygiëne (Social Hygiene Register).
A B category driving licence allows you to operate a vehicle with a maximum weight of 3,500 kilograms. If the vehicle itself is heavier, or if you use your vehicle to pull a trailer or semitrailer, you may need a different type of licence (category BE, C, or C1).
Starting your own food truck comes with its share of risk. For one, the risk of fire is relatively high, and you are vulnerable to financial loss or damage as a result of burglary or storm. Identify the risks and take out insurance where necessary.
Since you are responsible for the safety of your employees and the customers at your food truck, you are required to keep fire-extinguishing equipment onsite. The fire brigade will often check this at events. Set rules with your employees for workplace safety and provide them with safety shoes and professional workwear.
As a starting business, you will need to arrange several matters: