Food trucks on the rise, but many have never eaten at one

According to the National Restaurant Association, food trucks generate $650 million in annual revenue in the US. By the year 2017, it's expected to be a $2.7 billion national industry.

Despite food trucks' popularity and a projected market share jump to 3 or 4 percent in the next five years (according to Intuit), a recent survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, indicated that nearly half of respondents both nationally and statewide have never purchased food from such trucks.

Of the 1,022 adult respondents in the nationwide poll, 48 percent said they had never had a meal food from a food truck. Another 24 percent only frequent a food truck once or twice a year while 13 percent purchase food there once or twice a month. Only 11% buy lunch or dinner at a food truck from one- to three times or more a week. In the institute's statewide poll of 535 adults, a similar number – 45 percent, had never eaten food from a food truck.

Peter Marian, a Saint Leo University instructor of International Hospitality and Tourism, said he thinks Hollywood – movies, TV shows, etc. have made food trucks in vogue and their offerings sexy. "Current TV shows such as 'The Great Food Truck Race' and the movie 'Chef' have increased awareness of food trucks," said Marian. "Food trucks are very trendy right now, especially in downtown, metropolitan areas."

Many local events now such as festivals and fairs have food trucks provide a portion of the customer demands. "Where there are crowds of people, there are hungry mouths to feed. It's all about timing and location for the customer to connect with a food truck. Additionally, convenience and quality play key roles in someone choosing a food truck rather than another food option," stated Marian.