The street food phenomenon

Friday, December 2, 2016

Street food may not be new, but there is no denying that it remains a huge trend. Mary Portas saw it as a way to reinvigorate the British high street. The British Street Food Awards continue to celebrate a new culture of eating sweet and savoury on the hoof. Looks like the future's bright for the mobile food truck. Or is it?

A man eating some street food

There's no mistake that street food has revolutionised the way we eat. Brands like Meat Liquor have fast expanded from street stalls into thriving business empires and ‘starting out in street food’ is a growing trend.  Even Waitrose has its own street food range.  There's no denying that the public want quality, tasty, value for money food on-the-go made by authentic small producers using sustainably sourced ingredients. It's just that we might be expecting too much.

As street food gains in popularity, more traders come on the scene. More demand means more stalls. With space highly sought after by other traders and businesses, securing a pitch in a market is challenging and expensive, making it hard for street food traders to survive in such a competitive arena.

How can we ensure the street food vendors we know and love, as well as the newcomers trying to make their mark on the scene, are able to satisfy the nation’s love affair with street food?

Regeneration could be an answer. Brixton’s Village Market in Granville Arcade is a perfect great example where, in 2010, SpaceMakers took over an almost derelict site and negotiated low or zero rates for new traders. The food element was an enormous success to the point that private equity firms no longer look to the West End for new concepts, but go to Brixton instead.

Street food poses a massive opportunity to drive a new generation of food entrepreneurs, create jobs and aid economic recovery, but we're making it very hard for them.  Whether through regeneration or other means, it is vital that the country supports small food businesses if street food is to go the distance and prove to be more than just a flash in the pan.