The Weatherill Government must ensure growth in food truck permits does not hurt existing businesses and make the industry unsustainable, says industry association Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA).
The comments are in response to the Weatherill Government indication that it intends to amend the Local Government Act, limiting the ability of local councils to restrict the number of permits, operating hours and style of food sold by food truck operators.
R&CA CEO John Hart has welcomed further consultation on the amendment but warns the Government should not overstep what is essentially be a local council decision.
“The dining scene is definitely changing and food trucks are an attractive alternative because the overheads aren’t as high. But we need a balanced mix of both existing and alternative food options if the sector is to remain sustainable and competitive.
“The industry has consistently raised concerns over the uncontrolled growth in food truck numbers in the Adelaide CBD,” said Hart.
An R&CA member survey revealed 70 percent of operators believed their revenues had been negatively impacted during the ‘Mad March’ period with losses up to $50,000 over a six week period as a result of significant increases in food truck operators during this period.
“The Adelaide City Council listened to the industry and restricted the number of food trucks from 40 to 30 and increased operator fees to $2,500 per annum. The decision was balanced in encouraging new innovative food options while supporting existing operators.
“South Australia and Adelaide in particular has a vibrant dining culture with a great mix of food and entertainment venues. Food businesses are the largest contributor to the night time economy, injecting $603 million into the Adelaide local government area.
“What we don’t want to see is a saturation of food truck operators that makes both new entrants and existing operators unviable.
“The Premier’s announcement favours start-ups at the expense of existing operators – businesses that have supported the SA economy through local spend, tourism and job creation.
“R&CA would still like to see requirements that restrict the number, placement and operating hours of food trucks to existing businesses, particularly during peak hours of trade. Local councils cannot be removed from the equation.
“The industry supports reduced red tape for new business entrants, but not when it creates an unlevelled playing field at the cost of businesses that have supported the local economy for decades,” said Hart.