Food truck merchants are cashing in on the government’s two-year food truck pilot scheme even before it officially starts, with one dealer telling the Post he had sold 10 trucks in the past month. Local food truck dealer and chief executive of the Hong Kong Food Truck Association Simon Chung said inquiries flooded in after Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced in the budget that four extra sites would be added to the 12 originally announced when the scheme was unveiled. Chung said his company was mostly focusing on the leasing side of the food truck business, but the introduction of the pilot scheme had already helped business “enormously”. “I never thought we could actually sell food trucks which can be used for cooking,” Chung said. He said people were more confident when placing their orders now as the expansion of the plan in this year’s budget was a clear signal to the potential participants that the scheme would move forward. The 10 vans were sold to both big restaurant chains and individual buyers. While the average price was between HK$400,000 and HK$500,000, the cheapest truck sold was only HK$200,000. “The first batch of imported food trucks will arrive in Hong Kong next month,” he said. Encouraged by the strong demand for high-quality food trucks in the city, Chung is looking to exploit business opportunities provided by the pilot scheme. He plans to launch a series of services to support the food truck industry by the end of the year. The new business –“Food Truck Hotel” – would provide services such as car washing, overnight parking and sewage disposal. Each food truck would be charged a monthly fee of about HK$5,000 to HK$6,000, he said. “We are hiring more people,” Chung said, adding he was currently looking for locations to provide such services. Meanwhile, the government downplayed the HK$600,000 start-up cost it had earlier estimated for food truck operators which had drawn criticism that the project would be dominated by large food groups. “The HK$600,000 was never a threshold for starting a food truck, and we didn’t give any instructions how much the food should be sold,” a government source said. “If you can manage to build a food truck with a creative menu at a cost under $60,000, we are more than happy to accept it.” Despite four extra sites for food trucks added in this year’s budget, Leung Chi-yuen, a teaching fellow at Polytechnic University said the idea behind the project had not changed much. “It is still a tourism project,” he said, adding the two new locations – the coastal area of East Kowloon and Wong Tai Sin temple were not close to residential areas of Hong Kong. “Local hawkers still don’t stand a chance,” he said.