Officials must fine-tune Hong Kong’s food truck pilot scheme

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 10:32pm

A third food truck has now decided to withdraw from the pilot scheme which was launched by the government in February (“Lack of custom forces food truck to close”, October 12).

Supporters of the scheme believed it could succeed because it was innovative for Hong Kong, but I can understand why these businesses have experienced problems.

The prices at these trucks can be quite high. For example, a pineapple bun costs HK$20 while you would only pay around HK$5 or HK$6 in a cha chaan teng. Tourists and locals will be put off by higher prices.

Also, these trucks have designated locations, whereas similar vehicles in the US and UK have a lot more flexibility and more roads and parks.

Here they must be given fixed spots so they do not cause congestion. But at some of the locations, they are not getting enough customers.

They face quite high operating costs so if they are in a spot with fewer customers, turnover is poor and they are unable to make a profit. Nor can they cut prices, firstly, because of these operating costs and also as one of the aims of the scheme was to provide good-quality food to tourists.

If officials want these vehicles to be sustainable and become a permanent feature in Hong Kong, they have to look at the problems revealed by the pilot scheme and do some necessary fine-tuning.

They certainly have to look at the locations that have been chosen and make appropriate changes, so that truck owners can get the customer numbers needed to make their businesses viable.

Coming up with what seems like an original idea, at least for Hong Kong, may look good on paper. However, it has to make sound business sense.

If changes are not implemented, I am worried that more of these food truck operators could decide to cut their losses and call it a day.

If they can get more customers, they should be able to reduce prices and make their menu more affordable.

Abby Pang Hui-laam, Kowloon Tong