In February Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah suggested introducing the food truck culture into Hong Kong. He wants to encourage young people to start their own business and boost local tourism at the same time.
However, it is too early to tell whether the idea would grow and blossom in the city.
Some people are not too optimistic about the food truck concept, noting that the plan involves lots of communication and coordination among various government departments and officials. They worry that it would look totally different when it is officially rolled out one day.
In fact, government officials have started managing public expectations right after Tsang’s announcement.
For example, Gregory So Kam-leung, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, has said the city at present has no license mechanism for food trucks, so the trucks have to be stationary in order to sell food and drinks.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers saw the proposal as a perfect opportunity to travel abroad.
Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, the chairman of Legislative Council panel on food safety and environmental hygiene, has suggested holding a research trip to New York and San Francisco this September.
Cheung’s motion was immediately shot down by colleagues.
Kenneth Chan Ka-lok from pan-democratic camp, who is also a member of the panel, said he has no interest in joining the trip. In his view, the panel should at least wait until the government announces something concrete before planning such research trips.
Cheung’s suggestion will just be a waste of people’s money, according to Chan.
In fact, the Legislative Council Secretariat has recently done research on the industry. According to the report, the food truck business has a huge market in the United States. The industry saw its revenue grow by an average of 9.3 percent every year between 2010 and 2014.
Different cities have different policies toward the food truck business. New York, like Hong Kong, is a crowded city. So the local government deploys stricter rules on the truck, as the latter could not do business in commercial districts and in front of restaurants. New York has also set limit on the number of licenses; many food truck operators rent a license instead of buying one.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles is rather loose in the supervision of the business, opting to place only a few restrictions.
The cost of starting up a food truck business in the US and Australia is around HK$400,000 to HK$900,000, as shown by the Legislative Council Secretariat’s report.
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