Food Trucks: Dream or Nightmare?

Food trucks have grown in popularity at an exponential rate alongside the growth in social media usage; but are they an inventory management dream scenario, or a nightmare waiting to happen? We’re going to look at the different elements that will help you make that final decision. Let’s jump in and start with potential issues that may arise.


The larger issue of the two is over-ordering. As space is limited on food trucks, any additional inventory not on the truck must be stored in appropriate storage locations. This required storage creates not only an immediate additional cost, but also a potential loss on perishable inventory that may not be used before going bad. While you may have additional inventory on hand if you should run out on the truck, it’s a large risk to take. On the flip side, you may be over-ordering in order to meet a supplier imposed minimum, as opposed to running the risk of incurring penalties.

The other half of this issue is under-ordering to meet demand based on historical numbers, or you have much higher demand than expected, creating a potential shortage of inventory, and running under capacity. This means that if the truck runs out of ingredients, some popular dishes may have to be removed from the menu, or the truck may have to close entirely until more inventory is available. If you want to stay open and not remove those dishes until your next order of inventory arrives, you’ll need to run out to a store and spend more on your ingredients than you originally would.

Variable Demand

While over and under-ordering are key issues when it comes to managing inventory on your food truck, these issues can be attributed to the overarching issue of the variable demand and nature of food trucks. Weather, location, and general demand of the final product, among other variables, have great effects on the overall inventory requirements of the truck. Due to this variability, it may be difficult to order based on historical data or making general estimations.

Now that we’ve looked at some of the difficulties of food truck inventory management, there are silver linings that exist.

Limited Menu

By having a limited menu, you’re able to make recipe and menu costing a straightforward process. Using many of the same ingredients across many recipes allows you to minimize the time counting the individual ingredients, leaving less room for error.

Waste is Minimized

If ordering is done properly, inventory levels will be such that inventory turnover will occur frequently, leading to lower levels of waste, and ultimately a lower food… and who doesn’t love a lower food cost?

Fewer Storage Areas

Provided you don’t have secondary storage, you’ll only have one location to count inventory, and that’s on your truck. This makes it faster and easier to track inventory losses, making it easier to get accurate counts. If you do have secondary storage, your areas should still be fewer than that of a restaurant with a permanent location. Ideally, you would have storage areas for dry, refrigerated, and frozen, and finally on your truck.

As we can see, there are upsides and downsides to managing inventory on a food truck, and having a software solution, such as Optimum Control, makes the process easier and streamlined. Whether it’s a nightmare or dream is dependent on your business practices, and how your operations are organized.

Contact Sales