How To Start a Food Cart Business in the Philippines: Everything You Need To Know

Food Cart Business
A food cart business is a profitable business for an OFW. [Image Credit: Potato Corner / Facebook]

If you have been working as an Overseas Filipino Worker for several years, one of your goals probably is to establish your own business. If you want a steady source of income upon your retirement, you may franchise an established business or you may also start your own food cart business.

Starting your own food cart business is profitable. If you are not aware, the street food craze is currently sweeping not only the Philippines but also the whole world. From the bustling cities to small towns, street food on wheels is now a growing trend.

The food cart business is not only drawing street food fans, it is also bringing in big money too. In fact, according to Intuit, the street food business, including those operating in food trucks and mobile food carts, is a $2.7 billion industry that gave a 12.4% growth in just the last five years.

If you are thinking of starting your own food cart business, don’t worry, you are in the right place! Here’s a step-by-step process on how you can start your own business.

Why Is Street Food Popular?

The street food trend is a booming business. More and more people are looking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner options which are inexpensive, delicious, and quick to purchase and eat.

From a business owner’s perspective, starting a street food cart business has a low startup cost. Compared with a restaurant, having a trailer, food truck or kiosk has a lower overhead cost.

For a customer, street food is budget-friendly and convenient. It attracts almost all kinds of people: from locals, students, large families, and busy professionals.

What are the most popular street foods? Hotdogs, hamburgers, doughnuts, and ice cream. Some owners are also adding empanadas, crepes, tacos, and more — the possibilities are endless.

Food Cart
Food carts provide quick access to food. [Image Credit: Master Siomai / Facebook]

The PROs and CONs

There are a lot of advantages to starting your own food cart business. These are the reasons why many people are choosing to establish this kind of business. These advantages are:

  • Low start-up costs
  • You have the ability to be your own boss
  • Lesser risk than opening up a business
  • Flexible to work when and where you want
  • Little experience in operating a restaurant is required
  • Growing trend

Just like other businesses, there are also some disadvantages to check. Having a food cart business is no walk in the park. You also need to do the work and see the significant profits once your business is starting to pick up. The biggest cons of having your own food cart are:

  • Being self-employed can be burdensome for some
  • You may be required to work long hours, early morning or night shifts
  • There are regulations and laws to comply with
  • You need to find a suitable location
  • If you are a solopreneur, customer service may be challenging

The most common complaints of people are working long hours and looking for a place with business opportunities.

However, if you are passionate about delivering good food and you have a solid and well-researched plan, there’s a higher chance for you to find success in a food cart start-up.

Master Siomai
If you are an OFW, having a food cart business is profitable. [Image Credit: Master Siomai / Facebook]

How To Start A Food Cart Business

First Step: Do a Market Research

A market research involves finding out the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, Why, and When. It can be risky to assume that you already know the answers to these questions without conducting a marketing research.

Here are the questions you need to address during the research stage:

Operations

  • When will you start?
  • What time will you open?
  • How will the weather affect your business?

Target Market

  • Who are your customers?

Competition

  • Are there competitions?
  • What do these competitions offer?

Location

You need to find a couple of great locations. These locations will play a major factor in the success of your business.

  • What are the prime hours for these locations?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Where are the customers?

Some of the great places for you to consider are:

  • College Campuses
  • Schools
  • Office parks
  • Business district
  • Empty lots
  • Shopping districts or malls
  • Sports venues
  • Popular tourist spots

Since most of these locations will require you to have your own permit or owner agreements, you need to make sure that you have all the requirements. If you are planning to serve in events, festivals or conventions, you need to find where they are staged and if you need to lease the space in advance.

Second Step: Completing the Business Legal Requirements

The permits and licensing requirements for food cart businesses differ from province to province or city to city. But the most common business and legal requirements you will be required to submit are:

  • Food service permit
  • Health requirement
  • Business license
  • Sales tax permit
  • Truck or cart registration

Third Step: Start Your Own or Franchise

You can choose to sell your own product using your own name or you can also franchise from the already established food cart businesses.

If you are thinking of franchising a food cart, here is the list of food carts that you can avail:

Deli John Food Carts

Deli John Food Carts do not sell their franchises in singles. Instead, they provide bundles or doubles. They have 2-in-1 food carts that you can avail for only P20,000 or their 3-in-1 food carts for P23,500.

Their already existing concepts are:
Aldrei Sisig (Sisig)
Buko Puro (Buko Shake)
Burger Mancher (B1T1 Burger)
Ethans Chicken
Gabs Noodles (Fried Noodles)
Gello-Man Gulaman
I Love Bentelog
Migs Shawarma
Potato Craze
Street Balls
Siomai Infinity

Cost: Starting at P20,000 to P25,000
Inclusions: Franchise Fee, Training

Potato Corner

Potato Corner is known for their delicious fries. They can be found in almost every mall in the country. Potato Corner has already an established brand and a household name, with more than 1,100 branches in the Philippines.

Cost: Starting at P300,000 for a basic cart
Inclusions: Franchise Fee, Small Ware and Equipment, Training, Initial Supplies

Master Siomai

One of the fastest moving food carts in the country is siomai franchising. Given its price point, taste, and size, it is no wonder why people cannot stop eating it as a snack or meal viand.

Master Siomai has more than 550 outlets all over the Philippines. It is known for its distinct take on Japanese siomai.

Cost: Starting at P280,000
Inclusions: Japanese-inspired food cart, Equipment, Complete Set of Food Cart Kitchen Wares and Plastic Wares, Initial Food and Paper Products (approximately worth P7,000), Complete Set of Crew Uniforms, Marketing Collaterals, Cleaning Supplies

Filtrepreneur

Also known as the Filipino Entrepreneur Franchise or FFI, this food cart company started as a manufacturer of snack foods like siomai, siopao, fishballs, and more. Currently, it has 10 single cart packages, 2-in-1 carts, and 3-in-1 carts.

Cost: Starting at P58,000
Inclusions: Franchise Fee, Training, Initial Supplies, Freebies

Rice in a Box

Rice in a Box has become a popular food cart offering fried rice with toppings for people who are always on the go. It has more than 100 branches in Metro Manila alone.

Cost: Starting at P300,000 for a basic cart
Inclusions: Franchise Fee, Cart or Store Construction, 3 Sets of Crew Uniform, Training, Equipment and Utensils, Initial Inventory (approximately worth P3,000)

Hong Kong Style Noodles

Established in the early 2000’s, this fried noodles cart has become a huge success. Hong Kong Style Noodles has already established its branding and has more than 100 outlets all over the country.

Cost: Starting at P135,000
Inclusions: Food Cart, Utensils and Equipment, Menu Board and Marketing Collaterals, Initial Product Inventory, Pre-Opening Assistance, Personnel Training, Site Assistance

Hong Kong Style Fried Noodles
Build your own or franchise from an established business. [Image Credit: Hong Kong Style Fried Noodles / Facebook]

Tips For Starting a Food Cart Business

1. Build on one product. A food cart business is not a restaurant where you should offer a wide variety of meals. All the successful food carts focus on one product only. You can innovate or offer something new. You may also compete with what’s popular or in trend.

2. Choose a good location. Go where your target market is. These businesses are best when located inside the malls, near colleges, universities, office establishments, or transportation terminals.

3. Ensure food sanitation. Be meticulous when preparing and handling food. Make sure that there is proper sanitation in every step. Invest in high-quality containers and packaging.

4. Excel in customer service. You are not only selling your food, you are also providing customer service to your customers. Teach your crew to be warm and friendly. Always serve with a smile.

5. Provide strategic pricing. Sell your items at a price that can give you reasonable profits. Ensure that you are on par with your competitors. Assess if the prices are made affordable to your target market.

 

Running a food cart business can be challenging but it is a good option if you are a first-time entrepreneur. This is a great training ground if you want to be acquitted with the food industry.

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