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How Much Do Food Trucks Make?

how much do food truck owners make

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If you want to get involved in the restaurant business but don’t want to be tied to a physical location, a food truck may be the way to go. Starting a food truck typically requires less of an initial investment compared to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. It also allows for flexibility to move to new locations, cater special events, and set up at festivals and other community events.

A question that is top of mind for many food truck entrepreneurs is whether these businesses are actually profitable. Food trucks can make as much as $500,000 per year – although this number can vary considerably based on location, the type of food that you offer, and the amount of work you put into the business. Selling items with a higher profit margin – like drinks – can be a good way to boost profits can be a good way to increase food truck revenue and boost your bottom line.

At Budget Branders, we know that crunching the numbers is a core part of running a small business. When it comes to our promotional products, you won’t have to worry that offering custom paper bags, custom plastic cups, and custom napkins will break the bank. We sell all of our products at fair prices and in quantities that make sense for smaller operations. Reach out today to talk to a member of our branding team about our full line of high-quality disposable products.

Food Truck Profits: 2024 Numbers

Like any other business, the amount of money that a food truck can make will depend on a lot of factors. If you run a food truck in a high-cost-of-living area like New York or San Francisco, for example, you may be able to charge a lot more for a burger than you could in a small town in the Midwest. At the same time, you might pay a lot more for ingredients or labor – which could cut into profits.

Average Food Truck Revenue

Generally, food trucks make an average of $250,000 to $500,000 a year. This works out to $20,000 to $42,000 per month. Food truck owners tend to make anywhere from $24,000 to $153,000 per year from their trucks. Of course, there are some food trucks that might make a lot more – and some that might earn significantly less. For example, if you have a seasonal food truck that is only open in the summer or you run your food truck a few weekends a month as a side hustle, you probably won’t earn as much as a food truck that operates year-round as a full-time (or more than full-time) business.

A recent survey of food truck owners in all 50 states found that the median revenue for food trucks in the U.S. ranges from a low of $312,875 in South Dakota to $482,751 in California. These numbers represent gross revenue, or the profits without deducting any expenses. 

Average Food Truck Profit Margins

Once you deduct costs for ingredients and supplies, labor, the truck itself, licenses and permits, insurance, marketing, and advertising, the total profits will likely be significantly lower. For example, if your food truck makes around $300,000 in gross revenue each year and your expenses add up to $150,000, then your net profits will be $150,000. Profit margins for food trucks can be pretty thin. The average profit margin for food trucks nationwide is 6.2%. This means if you gross $300,000, your profit after expenses will be more like $18,600.

Of course, there are ways to decrease expenses and increase profits. You might take on most of the work yourself to reduce labor costs or use lower-cost marketing methods – such as custom-printed disposable products, which add just pennies on the dollar to the cost of plain disposables. 

You can also focus on menu items with a higher profit margin – which means that you can charge a lot more for these foods and beverages than what you paid for them. Examples of profitable food truck items include grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries, tacos, barbeque, burritos, falafel, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, beverages like coffee and tea, gourmet burgers, and donuts. Many of these items can be significantly marked up, resulting in a higher profit margin for your business.

Does It Make Sense to Start a Food Truck?

Making the decision to start any business can be a difficult one. Yet looking at industry trends and statistics can be a good place to start.

When it comes to food trucks, there are a lot of positive factors. Between 2018 and 2023, food trucks brought in 2.2 billion dollars in revenue and employed 54,552 people. Between 2024 and 2029, the market size for food trucks is predicted to increase for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Increased acceptance of food trucks by municipalities and changing regulations to encourage food trucks;
  • A different view of street food among consumers, with a belief that items from a food truck can be healthy, high quality, and delicious; 
  • The ability to quickly respond to food trends, particularly compared to traditional restaurants;
  • Outdoor settings allow for continued operation even in the face of global pandemics and other crises;
  • Low initial investment costs compared to a traditional restaurant;
  • Lower operational costs of food, supplies, and gas;
  • The ability to experiment with location and work special events more easily;
  • Minimal staffing costs compared to restaurants; and
  • The possibility of expanding an existing brand.

By 2029, the food truck market size is expected to grow to $6.87 billion from $4.15 billion in 2024.

Of course, these positive numbers don’t necessarily mean that opening up a food truck is the right option for you. Like any food service business, running a food truck is a LOT of work. In fact, it may even require more work for you as the owner-operator than a traditional restaurant because food trucks are staffed leanly. You may find yourself spending a lot of time doing prep at home and then working most nights and weekends – and weekdays, too!

Putting in a lot of work can often increase profits. While you aren’t guaranteed to make money running a food truck (or any business), many people who pour their heart and soul into a food business find that this hard work pays off over time. If you pick a good concept, focus on foods with a good profit margin, and make smart choices about when and where you operate, you could make a good living running a food truck.

How Budget Branders Can Help

Running a food truck takes a lot of work, from coming up with a concept to thinking up an advertising strategy to the physical work of preparing, cooking, and selling food. You also have to be on top of your game when it comes to location and booking festivals and other events. One way to help your business when it comes to marketing is by using custom-printed disposable items.

Based in Michigan, Budget Branders works with restaurants, cafes, tea shops, and food trucks across the United States. We offer premium quality disposable products, including custom plastic cups, custom ice cream bowls, custom coffee cups, custom coffee sleeves, custom plastic stadium cups, custom ripple cups, custom soup bowls, and custom sandwich bags. Our products are particularly useful for food trucks, where each customer takes their food to go – and has the potential to become a walking advertisement for your business.

We sell all of our high-quality products at low prices and in smaller quantities to make it easy for food trucks to not only afford by store custom disposables. To learn more or to request a quote, contact us today by pressing the live chat button, or sending us a message online.


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