The pop-up food phenomenon

With the obvious increase in the food and drink events being hosted across the UK, Eventbrite has completed an analysis of over 40,000 of these events, discovering that the pop-up dining experience made for the fastest growing trend. A growth rate of 82 per cent was recorded. Not far behind was street food with 80 per cent growth across the previous two years.

One of the UK’s leading LPG suppliers to businesses, Flogas, takes us through the food industry’s shift away from traditional brick-and-mortar establishments…

The reason behind pop-up food popularity

As part of a survey by Eventbrite which involved over 2,000 people who have enjoyed the pop-up dining experience, the results revealed why the pop-up food industry has grown to become so popular.

Money doesn’t make for much of an issue for pop-up restaurants, with 75 per cent of pop-up event attendees holding the belief that it’s worth paying more money in order to be part of a unique dining experience. About half of respondents also reported to be happy to pay more for a meal from the very same menu at a pop-up event which involved chef interaction as opposed to one served in a regular restaurant.

So, why is it then that people choose to attend a pop-up event over dining at a traditional restaurant? For 84 per cent of survey respondents, it was because of a unique menu or theme. Following this at 76 per cent were events held at a memorable location and occasions that promised to make for a one-of-a-kind experience at 74 per cent.

Chef Melissa King, the creator of Co+Lab the pop-up, is of the belief that creating a unique event works both ways when it comes to the pop-up food industry. She explained: “There are so many chefs out there — they have their restaurants and their day jobs, but they’re looking for something more. That’s what the pop-up culture offers them. They are able to take over someone’s space for only a few hours and convert it into their own identity. It’s not just about the food, it’s about creating a memorable experience for the guests.”

The rise of street food

It would appear as if it’s not just pop-up events which are enjoying somewhat of a golden moment right now, with street food witnessing a significant increase in popularity as well. UN-FAO statistics report that street food is now consumed by an estimated 2.5 billion people the world over and indicated that around 2,800 members with over 7,000 units served food across the UK as of 2015.

Street food is even looking to support locals, with people sourcing their produce through farm production and traditional knowledge.

You wouldn’t have to spend too much to set up your own street food vending operation either, as general guidelines suggested by The Hub point towards a small second-hand catering trailer or market being available for under £5,000. A Nationwide Caterers Association report acknowledges that a fully-equipped market stall can be acquired for around £3,000, while a food truck can be bought for an estimated £10,000.

Charlie Morse is a street food vendor himself and was keen to point out to Produce Business UK: “Street food as a trend is certainly growing, although it’s still not at the same level as in New York. I think it will die off a little as a trend and then become a normal, everyday offer. A lot of office workers go to street food stalls to buy their lunch and eat something healthy, cheap and different. There are so many trends within food but it works when you consider that people are money conscious and like variety.”