In his budget speech in February, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah broached the idea of bringing food trucks to the city streets.
But while the government is still trying to make up its mind on how to regulate the industry, Siky, who belongs to the post-80s generation, has decided to go right ahead and start his own food truck business.
Siky said he does not want to wait forever.
And so with the enthusiastic help of Simon, an investor, Siky converted his Suzuki vehicle into a solar-powered food truck equipped with a refrigerator and an air-conditioner.
The financial secretary had estimated that a food truck would cost between HK$700,000 and HK$1 million. But Siky was able to start his business with a budget of only HK$200,000.
Siky is disappointed the government is moving at a snail’s pace in setting the guidelines for the food truck business, unlike in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, where clear regulations are already in place.
“Since there haven’t been any specific guidelines for food trucks yet, I try to do what’s allowed under the current rules,” he said.
Siky has installed electric stoves on his truck since no naked flame is allowed on moving vehicles under the Fire Services Department rules and liquefied petroleum gas is banned by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department.
According to Gregory So Kam-leung, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, food license owners can only operate food trucks at fixed locations. Hence, Siky only runs his business at private parties and near school campuses.
Despite all these challenges, Siky and Simon are confident about the future of the food truck business in the city. The business avoids the number one headache of most business owners, namely high rental costs.
Food trucks also allow high flexibility. People can serve hotdogs today and sell cart noodles tomorrow.
“We need not compete with others in busy streets for customers. For example, people working in industrial estates have few choices and they will love our services,” Siky noted.
“We hope we can speed up things by providing our business data to the government for easy reference.”
Siky and Simon’s food truck, which has been in operation a few times, is well-received by the public.
Right now they are reaching out to restaurants and organizations for collaborative endeavors. There’s also a good chance they will be able to work with a restaurant chain in the near future.
Simon believes their business will appeal to non-governmental organizations and groups that adhere to environment-friendly lifestyles. That’s because their business caters to Hong Kong needs and is powered by solar energy.
In fact, Siky and Simon have established the Hong Kong Food Truck Association, which will be offering one-stop services — from food truck rental to supply of ingredients and distribution — to people interested in entering the business.
The two are also holding talks with a US food truck operator who wants to enter the Hong Kong market.
Siky said their food truck business can serve as a platform for testing the waters in Hong Kong, paving the way to future tie-ups with the US operator.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 6.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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