Few entrepreneurs in Colombia have the budget to rent premises and start selling their preparations. That’s why trucks have become an imported trend that helps them reduce fixed costs.
Mario Guardiola is the name of one of the pioneers in conditioning these units, also known as food trucks. He says that six years ago he wanted to assemble his truck, but discovered that there was no workshop that really specialized in this type of work on the local market.
“Before, it was time to contact a dozen different suppliers, because the bodywork supplier did not make kitchens, the kitchen supplier did not install gas and there was no all-in-one solution, so I detected the opportunity” Guardiola said.
Once he discovered this unmet demand, he gave birth to Colombian Food Trucks, a Bogotá-based company with which he has already managed to deliver nearly 400 fully customized vehicles. And before the pandemic, it generated 10 direct jobs.
It’s craftsmanship, not industry.
Mario explained that his company is not dedicated to mass production. That is to say, it does not assemble food trucks to put them in a window and wait for the arrival of a customer interested in buying them. It is a company focused on meeting the specific needs of each user.
“We can do big trucks to small trailers. It all depends on budget, size and interior design. We sit down with clients, review plans and create each project,” he said.
The portfolio of this company includes the various prototypes demanded by the market, with prices ranging from 17 million dollars and more.
The most popular product today, according to Mario, is the trailer, which can be attached to a vehicle and moved from place to place. Here the value is subject to size and equipment; if they are small, they can vary between 17 and 25 million dollars. If they are medium, large, or super large, the range is $25-60 million.
However, there is a whole catalog of solutions that the team of this company can exploit: the mini food trucks, which is priced between $50 million and $90 million; classic trucks ($45 million and $90 million) and new trucks ($65 million and up).
The largest gastronomic project so far has been developed for Hamburguesas el Corral, which has commissioned the packaging of a bus capable of shipping more than 600 hamburgers in one night.
the market is growing
Although the pandemic has thrown Colombian Food Trucks into a serious crisis, they have managed to recover and are currently shipping up to five orders per month. Even its founder believes the prospect is for growth.
José Ignacio Gómez, founder of the company Remolca, domiciled in Medellín, which also specializes in the development of these trucks, agrees with this.
In her case, the adventure began 10 years ago without looking for her. It all started when a customer came to his workshop to ask if it was possible to adapt a small truck to prepare pizzas. José Ignacio accepted the position and has since continued to condition these mobile units.
This businessman also does not assemble vehicles that have not been put into service and, as he explained, he ships between 15 and 20 projects each year, so, according to him, it is a business which continues to prosper and energize the national economy (see module).
From his point of view, gastronomic entrepreneurs have in the food trucks an added benefit: they don’t have to wait for customers at a fixed point, they can park in busy places and reduce business downtime.
Her company also offers something for all budgets because she understands that the well-being of families who strive to find their livelihood in this sector depends on these trucks.
“Now – he said – what is needed is regulation so that entrepreneurs can move around with their trucks and generate income.”
What the pandemic left behind
Medellín already has an entire economic ecosystem based on food trucks, as indicated by Juan David Piedrahíta, president of the Medellín Food Trucks Association (Asofoodtrucks).
According to the union leader, this group of nomadic restaurateurs was created in 2011 due to the growth of this trend in the city.
“I saw that here there was no organization among the owners of the food truckseveryone has gone their own way, whereas in big cities like Miami, Santiago and Sao Paulo they are more orderly,” he said.
At its best, according to Piedrahíta, there were 196 entrepreneurs in this association, they even worked with three municipal administrations to have rules of the game regarding the use of public space and health regulations.
Unfortunately — exclaimed Piedrahíta — 2020 has arrived accompanied by covid-19. And with it, the total confinements between March and September of that year, a crisis that caused the departure of 102 food trucks in the capital of Antioquia.
Despite the purge that the pandemic has brought, the leader of Asofoodtrucks also believes that the recovery of this sector has accelerated. Especially since the events that attract crowds have returned to the country: concerts, fairs, festivals and markets.
This is good news because, just like those who condition vehicles, restaurateurs and their suppliers are also benefiting from the dynamism around gastronomy. Indeed, according to the calculations of Asofoodtrucks, one of these units generates employment on average between four and six people.
On the other hand, Piedrahíta indicated that the association promotes a collaborative economy model, that is, it seeks to encourage purchases from small local suppliers to accelerate the pace of economic recovery in the region.
associates came to have Asofoodtrucks Medellín even before the pandemic.
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