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The food truck industry has experienced exponential growth over the last few years, becoming a prominent feature in the culinary world. Each day, an average food truck serves up a variety of unique and tantalizing dishes, from gourmet burgers to international cuisine, that sell better due to their convenience and novelty.

However, the potential profitability of running a food truck often raises questions. How much profit can a food truck make? Is investing in a food truck a profitable endeavor?

These questions are valid given the industry’s trend of rapid growth. To get an idea of the financial potential, one needs to examine several factors that contribute to the revenue and profitability of a food truck. This includes everything from daily sales and overhead costs to factors like location and competition. Understanding these elements is critical to evaluate the potential success and profitability of a food truck venture.

How Much Does a Food Truck Make?

The financial health of a food truck could depend on a myriad of factors. But, how profitable can they really be? Food Truck Empire provides some impressive statistics. Approximately 50% of food trucks reportedly made $150,000 or more in revenue per year. These figures show that a successful food truck can indeed be a profitable venture, even rivaling the revenue of some brick-and-mortar restaurants.

However, not every food truck hits these high figures. Around 45% of food trucks earned between $50,000 and $149,999 annually. A small proportion, just over 3% of food trucks, reported earnings of less than $50,000 per year.

When you break down these annual figures, you get a clearer image of the average daily and monthly income. The weekly and daily income vary widely, but it’s still important to note that even the cheapest food items, sold at high volume, can generate a respectable revenue.

How Much Can Food Truck Owners Make?

Running a food truck is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. So, what can owners expect to earn for their hard work and dedication? According to Toast, food truck owners typically earn between $24,000 and $153,000 per year. This range may seem broad, but it’s important to remember that there’s a large variety in the size and success of food trucks.

As your business grows, you’ll need to start drawing a salary. But what should that amount be? Here’s a rule of thumb – your salary should be less than 50% of your profit. This helps ensure that you’re reinvesting enough back into the business to allow for continued growth and success.

While the amount a food truck can earn per day or per month fluctuates, the potential for a lucrative income is there. It all comes down to how well the food truck business is run and how much revenue it generates. 

What Are The Typical Food Truck Profit Margin?

When looking at whether food trucks are profitable, one of the key indicators to consider is the average profit margin. This is the percentage of each dollar earned that translates into pure profit after all expenses are accounted for. For the average food truck, the profit margin typically ranges between 7% to 8%.

However, that isn’t to say that all food trucks are limited to this bracket. In fact, if a food truck is wildly successful, the profit margin can skyrocket to a staggering 14%-15%. This shows that while food trucks can make a steady income, there’s potential for much more if the conditions are right and they aren’t bound by the typical profit margin.

Understanding profit margins is crucial, but it’s equally important to know what factors contribute to these figures. Let’s dive deeper into the factors next.

What Determines Food Truck Profit Margin?

Cost of Ingredients and Supplies

One of the major factors determining a food truck’s profit margin is the cost of ingredients and supplies. These form the basis of your menu and, therefore, account for a significant chunk of your operating costs. Depending on the type of cuisine you’re serving, these costs can have a wide range. Quality, quantity, and the price of your ingredients can significantly impact your profitability.

Employee Wages

The people who help run your food truck — from chefs to cashiers — also add to your costs. Paying competitive wages is key to attracting and retaining quality staff. You’ll need to account for this expense when calculating your profit margins.


The saying “location, location, location” holds true even in the mobile food business. A spot with high foot traffic, where customers can easily access and dine at your food truck, can significantly increase your sales volume and, therefore, your profit margin.

Overhead Expenses

Running a food truck comes with its fair share of overhead costs. This includes startup costs, cost of using commissary kitchen, maintenance and repair expenses, fuel for your truck, and licensing and permit fees. Keeping these costs low can give a healthy boost to your profit margin.

Sales Volume

Higher sales volume equates to higher revenue averages. The more customers you serve in a day, the better your profit margin is likely to be. To increase your sales volume, you may need to enhance the appeal of your food and service. A simple tip can be to focus on quality, speed, and excellent customer service.


The number of competing food trucks in your area can also affect your profitability. If you’re operating in a saturated market, you may need to make an extra investment in marketing and branding to stand out.


Finally, the profitability of food trucks can be influenced by seasonality. Weather conditions and local events can have a considerable impact on your sales. Understanding these factors and planning your operations accordingly can help maximize your profit margins.

How to Forecast Your Food Truck Sales?

Creating a sales forecast for a new food truck can be a daunting task, especially with no past data to base your predictions on. However, the process can be simplified by taking the following steps:

Determine Your Customer Capacity

Start by calculating the maximum number of customers your food truck can serve in a day. This can be gauged by the preparation time for each menu item and the operational hours of your truck. Knowing your customer capacity gives you a sense of the volume you can handle and forms the basis for your sales forecast.

Estimate Average Spend Per Customer

The next step is to estimate the average spend per customer based on your menu prices. You might also need to consider the average number of items each customer is likely to order. If you’re able to provide a high-quality dining experience, customers may be willing to spend more, thus increasing your average sales per customer.

Project Your Annual Sales

By multiplying your daily customer capacity with the average spend per customer, and then multiplying that by the number of operational days in a year, you can get an estimate of your yearly sales. This provides a realistic view of what you might expect to make in your first year of operation.

Conduct Competitor Research

Finally, don’t forget to research your competitors. Identify other food trucks or restaurants that serve similar food, and watch their business during peak hours. If possible, try to get a sense of their customer turnover and note their menu prices. This can give you a valuable reference point for your own sales forecast.

Forecasting sales is an art that takes time and practice. As your food truck business grows, you’ll be able to refine these forecasts, making them more accurate and, ultimately, helping you make your food truck more profitable.

How to Calculate Profit Margin for Your Food Truck

Here is a straightforward guide on how to calculate and maximize your food truck profit margin.

Calculating Profit Margin

1. Total Expenses

Begin by calculating the total expense, or the cost of doing business, per year. This includes everything from the cost of ingredients, employee wages, and overhead costs to marketing and other miscellaneous costs.

2. Total Revenue

Next, collate all the revenue you’ve made that year. This should include individual sales, commissions, and revenue from catering services or special events.

3. Net Profit

Once you have your total expenses and total revenue, you can calculate your net profit using the following formula:

Net Profit = Total sales – Cost of doing busines 

4. Net Profit Margin

Finally, calculate your net profit margin. This figure represents the percentage of your sales revenue that is profit. It’s calculated by dividing the net profit by total sales:

Net Profit Margin = (Total sales – Cost of doing business) ÷ Total sales

Maximizing Food Truck Profit Margin

Maximizing your profit margin involves both increasing your revenue and decreasing your costs.

On the revenue side, you can aim to attract more customers, increase prices where feasible, or offer premium services like catering.

As for costs, try to find ways to operate more efficiently. This could mean sourcing more affordable suppliers, cutting unnecessary expenses, or improving your operation to minimize waste.

An Example Revenue & Cost Breakdown For a Food Truck

Operating a food truck involves various costs and potential revenue streams. To better understand this, let’s break down a hypothetical scenario, which can be further elaborated in your food truck business plan.

Suppose a food truck has an Annual Revenue of $150,000. The Annual Expenses may look something like this:

  • Permits, Insurance, Parking: $10,000
  • Commissary Kitchen Rental: $12,000
  • Utilities: $3,000
  • Food Costs: 30% of sales, or $45,000
  • Labor Costs: 30% of sales, or $45,000
  • Loan Repayment: $20,000

Adding these together, the total expenses would be $135,000. Thus, the Total Profit (Revenue – Expenses) would be $15,000.

As a rule of thumb, the Owner’s Salary should be less than 50% of the profit, so in this case, it would be $7,500.

It’s crucial to note that these are estimated figures, and actual costs can vary based on several factors. To get a more precise understanding of how much running a food truck might cost, check out this detailed article on how much does a food truck cost.

Improving Your Food Truck Sales

Elevating your food truck business profitability goes beyond serving delicious food; you need strategies to draw customers and make your brand stand out. Here are some tips:

Invest in Food Truck Marketing

Effective marketing can significantly increase your food truck sales. Consider utilizing social media platforms to keep customers updated about your location, menu changes, or special events. It’s an excellent way to connect with your customers and make your food truck more profitable. For more marketing tips, read this food truck marketing guide.

Adopt an Online Ordering System

In today’s digital age, customers appreciate the convenience of online ordering. Implementing an online ordering system like Menubly can help you reach many customers who wants to order online for delivery or pickup.

Reward Loyal Customers

Consider a loyalty program to reward your frequent customers. It could be a punch card system, where after a certain number of purchases, the customer gets a free taco, for instance. This strategy encourages repeat business.

Offer Specials and Promotions

Attract more customers by offering daily specials or limited-time promotions. These could be themed around local events or holidays to add a touch of fun and excitement.

Partner with Delivery Services

Lastly, partnering with delivery services can boost your sales by reaching customers who may not have the time to visit your truck. It opens a new revenue stream, especially during off-peak hours.

There are countless ways to make your food truck profitable. Explore more food truck ideas to find what resonates with your customers and best suits your brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Food Trucks Make Most Money?

Not all dishes are created equal when it comes to profitability. Food trucks that offer unique, high-quality food tend to make the most money. This includes trucks specializing in gourmet cuisine, ethnic foods, or special dietary offerings. Fast food or popular comfort food also tend to perform well, especially during lunch hours and late-night festivals.

2. How Long Does It Take to Break Even on a Food Truck?

On average, it takes a food truck between 1 to 1.5 years to break even. This, of course, depends on various factors such as the initial investment, operating costs, and how much revenue the truck generates from its usual spot or events.

3. How Can Food Truck Profits Be Improved?

Profits can be improved by investing in effective marketing, offering specials and promotions, rewarding loyal customers, and even partnering with delivery services. Additionally, sourcing quality ingredients from cost-effective suppliers like local grocery stores can help improve margins.

4. Why Do Food Trucks Fail?

Food trucks can fail for several reasons. In some cases, it’s due to lack of proper planning or inadequate understanding of the market. Other times, it might be due to poor location choice, subpar food quality, or inefficient cost management. It’s important for food truck owners to constantly adapt and refine their business strategies for success.

5. How to Start a Food Truck with No Money?

To start a food truck with no money, consider these steps:

  1. Begin with a cart or stand instead of a food truck.
  2. Get family and friends involved for support and resources.
  3. Utilize a restaurant incubator to access shared kitchen space and equipment.

For more details, you can visit this resource: How to Start a Food Truck Business with No Money.

Setting up a website for your food truck

When setting up your food truck, it’s crucial to explore ways to attract more customers to your food truck. One effective way to do this is by having a dedicated website where your customers can learn everything about your food truck anytime, anywhere. 

Menubly lets you create a mini website with a built-in online menu which centralizes all important information about your food truck into one accessible link. It makes it easy for your customers to interact with your food truck: they can view your menu, find your location, book a table, place delivery orders… all in one place.

By adding your mini website link in your Instagram bio and other social media profiles, or sharing it directly with customers, you make it easy for them to discover and engage with your food truck through a single, convenient link. This streamlined approach not only enhances customer experience but also boosts your online presence and attract more customers.

Best of all? You can set up your Menubly mini website for Free in just under 5 minutes and tailor it to match your food truck’s style.  

Ready to boost your food truck’s online presence? Click here to create your free website with Menubly!


Running a food truck business is a dynamic endeavor that can be highly profitable with the right planning, hard work, and strategic implementation. From understanding your profitability metrics to optimizing your food truck sales strategies, every step can lead you closer to the sweet spot of success. Keep in mind that every food truck business is unique, with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Staying informed, adaptable, and customer-focused can help steer your business towards its desired goals. The journey may be challenging, but the potential rewards make the food truck industry an exciting business prospect.