CHICAGO – A food truck pulling up to a curb outside an office building may be a cringe worthy sight to owners of brick-and-mortar foodservice establishments for good reason. Many consumers are replacing quick-service restaurant visits with a stop at a food truck, according to The NPD Group, a global information company.

About half of consumers surveyed said they would have ordered from a fast-food restaurant if they had not obtained their meal or snack from a food truck. The availability of interesting foods and convenience, a traditional selling point for QSRs, was the top reason respondents gave for using food trucks. However, another 20 percent of respondents said they would have skipped the meal altogether, which implies the pit stop at the food truck was spontaneous or unplanned, according to NPD.

“For now at least, food trucks need not be viewed as a threat to restaurant demand nationally,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “However, in markets with a developed food truck presence, QSR operators may wish to take note of the benefits food trucks offer, such as different and fresh food, especially as a means to build their snack business and/or protect lunch traffic.”

The NPD survey also found that many consumers are only occasional diners at food trucks. Additionally, more than half of those aware of food trucks in their area say they purchase from them once every two to three months or less often. The top foods on offer at food trucks include hot and cold sandwiches, Mexican foods and soups. Food trucks also compete with QSR outlets through dayparts because the trucks are primarily open for lunch and snacking.