Starting a food truck: here is your checklist

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? 

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. 

This also means that you will be starting out in a market with a lot of competition. Therefore, stand out with a unique concept. Research the market and think about your marketing plan.

Difficult words

You may encounter some words you do not understand in this article. This glossary tells you what they mean. 

How much does a food truck cost?

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. Renting is also 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.

In addition to the purchase costs of the truck itself, you will be faced with the following expenses:

  • Maintenance and inspection
  • Fuel
  • Storage
  • Insurance
  • Inventory
  • Refrigeration
  • 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.

Earning money with your food truck

There are 3 ways to earn money with your own food truck:

  1. 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. Usually, the percentage is between 15% and 25%. At large festivals, this contribution can even reach 40-50%.
  2. 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  requirements of the Netherlands Tax Administration (Belastingdienst, in Dutch).
  3. Being contracted by a client. In this case, you can agree on a fixed price or bill your client based on actual costs.

Permits for food trucks

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 trade

    A standplaatsvergunning (mobile food-vending unit permit) allows you to park your food truck on a public road or site and sell your products.
  • Hygiene

    Depending 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 safety (in Dutch), such as the hygiene code for the hospitality industry (HACCP).
  • Buma/Stemra

    If you plan to play music in your food truck, you will need to deal with music rights. Ask Buma/Stemra (in Dutch) about the costs involved.
  • Event permit

    Will you be at an event or festival? Check with the event organiser if they have arranged all the necessary permits and insurance or if you have to apply for these (partly) yourself.

Staff

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 alcohol 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 Dutch) or certificate of competence in order to register with the Register Sociale Hygiëne (Social Hygiene Register).

What type of driving licence do you need?

A category B 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).

General information for starting businesses

As a starting business, you will need to arrange several matters: