How the pop-up food industry has risen in popularity

Food and drink is more popular with the general public than ever before; Eventbrite has found that the number of pop-up food stalls and street food vendors are increasing year on year; so there’s plenty of food to go round!

When it comes to a unique dining experience, Eventbrite found that the pop-up dining experience was the fastest growing trend among those who want to excite their taste buds — recording 82% growth. Flogas, one of the UK’s leading LPG suppliers to business, discuss how the food industry has shifted away from brick and mortar establishments to makeshift, spontaneous dining experiences.

So what’s so good about pop-up dining experiences?

If the public want a great culinary experience, it’s clear that they aren’t afraid to pay the money for it, with 75% claiming that they are happy to pay more money for a better foodie experience overall. Around half of respondents also said that they would be happy to pay more for a meal from the exact same menu at a pop-up event where chef interaction is involved as opposed to one served in a regular restaurant.

Although it’s obvious that people are willing to pay more for better food, what else is driving their decision to dine in this way? For 84% of survey respondents, it was a unique menu or theme. This was followed by events held at memorable location (76%) and occasions that promised to be a one-of-a-kind experience (74%).

For the food and hospitality industry generally, pop-up dining experiences are an attempt to change public spaces, and the cultural dynamics surrounding the way we approach ‘eating out.’ As Chef Melissa King, Creator of Co+Lab the pop-up, explained: “There are so many chefs out there — they have their restaurants, their day jobs, but they’re looking for something more. That’s what the pop-up culture offers them. They are able to take over someone’s space for only a few hours and convert it into their own identity. It’s not just about the food, it’s about creating a memorable experience for the guests.”

Street food: found around every corner

Yes, pop-up food events are becoming increasingly popular – but that doesn’t mean that street food isn’t cooking up a storm of its own. UN-FAO statistics claim that an estimated 2.5 billion people now eat street food worldwide and had some 2,800 members with over 7,000 units serving food across the UK as of 2015.

The reason why street food does so well for both the public and the vendors is because the food that is cooked is usually cheap and nutritious. Inspired by local areas, street food tends to be influenced by the seasonality of farm production, so the local agricultural community usually benefits from street vendors who wish to cook with local produce in mind.

If a second-hand catering trailer or market stall can be acquired for as little as £5,000 – then it becomes clear as to why so many stalls are turning up on streets across the country. A report by the Nationwide Caterers Association acknowledges that a fully equipped market stall can be bought for around £3,000 and a food truck for an estimated £10,000.

Charlie Morse, a street food vendor himself, was keen to point out to Produce Business UK that in the future, street food will become less of a novelty or trend, and more of a normality within the way people eat meals on a day-to-day basis: “Street food as a trend is certainly growing, although it’s still not at the same level as in New York. I think it will die off a little as a trend and then become a normal, everyday offer. A lot of office workers go to street food stalls to buy their lunch and eat something healthy, cheap and different. There are so many trends within food but it works when you consider that people are money conscious and like variety.”